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Baltimore mayor criticizes media, says city is 'prepared,' not 'on edge'

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Wednesday defended the city's decision to call in heavily-armored police officers from surrounding counties in anticipation of a verdict in the Officer William Porter trial.

Rawlings-Blake chastised members of the media, who she said had "sensationalized" the city's actions. She said Baltimore is "prepared," not "on edge."

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"We all remember what April and May were like with National Guard troops throughout our city," the mayor said. "The way to make sure we don't get back there is to make sure we have assets in place to respond. ... It's not to create fear. It would be irresponsible of me as the chief executive of the city not to prepare for whatever comes up."

Baltimore officials say they are seeking to avoid a repeat of the riot that erupted in April while preserving the community's right to protest over concerns about police brutality.

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On Tuesday, state troopers and officers from neighboring jurisdictions, including Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties, assembled in the city with riot gear and at least one armored vehicle in Druid Hill Park.

"I have a responsibility to be prepared," Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday. "When you have stations talking about 'Baltimore's on edge" that's not me. That is many people reporting it as if being prepared means that we're on edge. No, we're prepared."

Porter is one of six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, 25, who suffered fatal injuries in the back of a police van in April. The day of Gray's funeral, the city descended into rioting, looting and arson.

Porter has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. He has pleaded not guilty.

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The 12-member jury considering Porter's fate deadlocked on Tuesday, and Judge Barry G. Williams ordered them to continue deliberations..

On Wednesday, Rawlings-Blake also was critical of recent comments made by Gov. Larry Hogan, who questioned why there isn't more outrage about Baltimore's more than 300 homicides this year.

"Crime is out of control in Baltimore City," Hogan said during a Tuesday interview on WBAL radio. "I've expressed my concern that we have a lot of people out there, expressing their concern, their frustration over the tragic death of Freddie Gray. But where is the uproar from the community? Where are the people protesting the 330 people murdered?"

The mayor said many people in Baltimore are outraged by the murders, and cited the work of the anti-violence group, the 300 Men March, among others.

"I would disagree with his assertion that there's no community outrage," Rawlings-Blake said. "In order to have an understanding of community outrage, you have to actually be in the community, and that's not dropping in for a photo op. I would encourage him to come with me on my 'Crime and Grime' walks and talk to the constituents I talk to on a weekly basis. We have people who are willing to work to have a safer city."

Twitter.com/lukebroadwater

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