The Baltimore riots are occurring in the face of failed political and police leadership and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake should resign, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton writes in a social media posting that is being echoed by dozens nationwide.
In the Twitter posting Fitton links a disturbing local newspaper report with graphic photos of a burning car, police clad in riot gear and masked looters. “Violence and looting overtook much of West Baltimore on Monday, injuring more than a dozen police officers and leaving buildings and vehicles in flames,” the article opens. “As night fell, looters took to Mondawmin Mall and a Save-A-Lot and Rite Aid in Bolton Hill, loading up cars with stolen goods. About 10 fire crews battled a three-alarm fire at a large senior center under construction at Chester and Gay streets, as police officers stood guard with long guns. About 10 p.m., police confirmed shots were fired at an officer in the area of Virginia Avenue and Reisterstown Road in Northwest Baltimore.”
Mayor Rawlings-Blake essentially granted permission to riot by publicly stating that she instructed Baltimore Police to allow protestors to express themselves and that “we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.” A local media outlet published the mayor’s controversial comments, delivered at a televised press conference, in its entirety: “I 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 were able to exercise their right to free speech,” Rawlings-Blake said. “It’s a very delicate balancing act. Because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and other things that were going on, we also 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 de-escalate.”
The violence unfolded after the weekend funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died in police custody. On the night of the funeral the man’s mother made a plea for peace that fell on deaf ears. By Monday the city looked like a war torn country. Maryland’s governor declared a state of emergency and National Guard troops were deployed to Baltimore City Hall. Around 500 guardsmen are helping Baltimore’s overwhelmed law enforcement agency and the number will increase to 2,000, according to a national news report that cites a National Guard Lieutenant Colonel. A citywide curfew has also been issued for at least a week and Baltimore public schools closed. After essentially endorsing the violence, Rawlings-Blake said “I’m at a loss for words,” evidently referring to the rampage that has destroyed her beloved city. She went on to say “I understand anger, but what we’re seeing isn’t anger, it’s destruction of a community.”
What did the mayor, who has a law degree, think would happen after telling raucous protesters that her city government would give those who wished to destroy the space to do it? What an absurd message for a city leader to deliver to a pumped-up crowd on the verge of unleashing violent anger. No wonder Fitton’s call for her resignation on social media has received widespread support. One response to the posting said the mayor is definitely sleeping on the job and that she missed an opportunity to show great leadership. Another points out that Rawlings-Blake is claiming the press misunderstood what she said when the reality is that she was clearly quoted.