Rioters protesting the police custody death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore following his April 12 arrest received support for their lawlessness from some unlikely quarters — Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Police arrested Gray on a weapons charge in a high-crime area of Baltimore known for drugs.
According to Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez. Grey “gave up without the use of force.” Somewhere between the time police arrested Grey and placed in a police transport van and the van’s arrival at its destination, Grey has suffered a severe spinal cord injury according to a police report.
Mayor Rawlings-Blake said:
I’ve made it very clear that I work with the police, and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters could exercise their right to free speech.
It’s a very delicate balancing act because while we tried to make sure they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we gave those who wished to destroy space to do that, as well. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to deescalate. And that’s what you saw.
Baltimore police made 34 arrests during Saturday’s demonstration, and six officers were allegedly injured. Protestors smashed several downtown storefronts and damaged several police cars.
Despite her comments about creating a “space” for more destructive elements in protests, Mayor Rawlings-Blake blamed “outside forces”…for “inciting some of the ‘shut this city down’ sort of messaging.” according to the Baltimore Sun.
The mayor then made a call for peace noting that burial would held for Gray on Monday and that the Baltimore Police Department’s full report on Grey’s arrest and death should be released by this weekend.
Currently, police are getting ready for additional protests later today following reports that several groups were planning to work together and target their violence against police.