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Emails from the Baltimore unrest: Explore documents and findings

Emails and documents released Monday by Baltimore officials depict a chaotic situation within city government before, during and after rioting broke out on April 27, with rumors flying, communication breaking down and leadership being questioned. The files below were among the more than 7,000 documents that city officials turned over to The Baltimore Sun in response to a Maryland Public Information Act request.

Select a finding from the emails below.

  • Communications breakdown
  • Waiting for riot equipment
  • Curfew disagreement
  • Calls for the National Guard
  • Praise/Criticism for Batts
  • Assignments and priorities
  • Rihanna wanted to perform
  • Worrying about Malik Shabazz
  • Mayor safety concerns
  • Monitoring social media
  • Batts to BPD
  • Curfew exception requests
  • False family meeting
  • Korean-American merchants
  • Concerns for the homeless
  • City faced cyberattacks
Finding: Communications breakdown

Communications within city government broke down during the riots of April 27, as officials desperate for information exchanged rumors and subordinates questioned city leaders.

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Finding: Waiting for riot equipment

Even as unrest and looting were breaking out across the city on the day of Freddie Gray's funeral, Baltimore police were waiting for riot equipment that was on order.

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Finding: Curfew disagreement

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake wanted to lift the curfew put in place after rioting broke out in Baltimore, but faced opposition from Gov. Larry Hogan, according to an email released Monday.

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Finding: Calls for the National Guard

The mayor's office was inundated with pleas from residents to call in the National Guard.

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Finding: Assignments and priorities

Early on the morning of April 28, as portions of Baltimore recovered from a night of rioting and looting, police commanders were sent an email outlining their assignments for the day - and the department's list of priorities.

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Finding: Rihanna wanted to perform

Rihanna, the R&B megastar, wanted to come to Baltimore in the week after rioting broke out to walk with protesters and perform a free concert.

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Finding: Worrying about Malik Shabazz

Officials in Maryland worried that out-of-town protest leader Malik Shabazz would incite violence at a protest planned the weekend after rioting wracked Baltimore and had been monitoring his activities in the city for a week.

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Finding: Mayor safety concerns

Nearly a week after Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake instituted a curfew in Baltimore following rioting and looting - and just one day before she lifted it - top mayoral aides were concerned about her safety amid a growing community tension. One suggested the need to put "scouts on the ground" in advance of all mayoral appearances.

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Finding: Monitoring social media

City officials compiled a spreadsheet listing suspicious Twitter and other social media postings from the day rioting broke out (April 27).

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Finding: Batts to BPD

Former Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts commended the city's officers for their "restraint, professionalism, and attention to duty" in the handling of the protests before the rioting on April 27. Much of the police department's internal plan wasn't contained in the documents provided Monday to The Baltimore Sun. For instance, a "civil disturbance" operations plan was included in the documents, but much was redacted from public review.

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Finding: Curfew exception requests

On April 28 - just hours before the first nightly curfew would go into effect in Baltimore - Nathan Willner wrote an email to a neighborhood liaison in the office of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake thanking her for "verbally authorizing" volunteers with the Jewish safety patrol groups Shomrim and Chaverim to be out past 10 p.m. But Willner, an attorney and president of the Cheswolde Neighborhood Association, said in the 2:36 p.m. email that he also wanted the curfew exception in writing - lest volunteers run into issues when police saw them out and about after the curfew was in effect.

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Finding: False family meeting

William H. Murphy, Jr., lawyer for Freddie Gray's family, sent a letter to former Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts asking for him to stop talking about an alleged meeting with the family.

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Finding: Korean-American merchants

One week after rioting and looting ripped through Baltimore, Korean-American merchants whose businesses had been damaged organized a meeting at a Columbia church. They wanted to hear directly from the Baltimore Police Department about what was being done, and they got their wish - thanks in part to the interest of Maryland's First Lady, Yumi Hogan.

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Finding: Concerns for the homeless

The street, sidewalk, benches and steps were considered "home" to Baltimore's homeless population during the post-riot curfew, according to city officials.

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Finding: City faced cyberattacks amid unrest

As Baltimore remained under curfew after riots over Freddie Gray's death, a cyberattack knocked out the city's website while hackers who sympathized with protesters on the streets threatened to target the government's computer systems.

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View all coverage related to Freddie Gray and the Baltimore unrest.

*Personal information has been redacted

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