Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Friday that President Donald Trump’s “inflammatory rhetoric” is not helpful toward restoring calm in Minneapolis following rioting after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.
Trump tweeted that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” early Friday as he pushed for a crackdown on protesters. Twitter flagged the tweet for encouraging violence, but still allowed people to view the post.
Hogan, a Republican, was governor in 2015 when rioting and arson broke out in Baltimore after days of mostly peaceful protests spurred by the death of Freddie Gray, who was fatally injured in city police custody after being arrested on a minor charge.
Hogan, appearing on NBC’s “Today” show Friday morning after another night of protesting, rioting and arson in Minneapolis, said political leaders need to work decisively to restore calm. He recalled how he worked in Baltimore for a week after the night of unrest and claimed credit for the lack of further violence.
Asked by host Craig Melvin about the Republican president’s tweet, Hogan responded: “I don’t think it’s helpful. I just mentioned lowering the temperature, trying to stop the violence and to bring about calm and restore law and order. Inflammatory rhetoric, I just don’t think is helpful on either side. I do believe you’ve got to have law and order, that you’ve got to stop the burning and looting, but inciting violence with Twitter is not the way to go about it.”
Hogan also said he disagrees with claims made by the Minneapolis prosecutor, who said Thursday that criminally charging the officers soon would be “a rush to justice.” The prosecutor, Hennepin County District Attorney Mike Freeman, compared the case to that of Gray, in which none of the police officers who were charged were convicted.
“I don’t think it’s a fair comparison,” Hogan said. “The evidence here seems overwhelming and clear to me. You have a video of exactly what happened.”
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, a Democrat who charged the six officers involved in Gray’s death, issued a statement Thursday night defending her handing of the case and said Freeman’s reference to her prosecution to justify his actions was “shameful.”
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By Friday, Freeman had charged the officer with murder and manslaughter and said more charges were possible.
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who was Baltimore’s Democratic mayor in 2015, also spoke on national TV about comparisons between Floyd’s death and Gray’s death.
Rawlings-Blake said it’s important for prosecutors to have a strong case because it’s so difficult to get convictions against police officers in court.
“It’s very important to get it right and not just get it fast,” Rawlings-Blake said in an interview on CNN’s “Out Front” Thursday night. “When you are dealing with charges against a police officer, we have seen historically the bar is so high on findings of guilt.”
She said she hoped people in Minneapolis would have “enough faith in the prosecutor’s office to give them the time they need to do a thorough investigation.”
Rawlings-Blake said it was good, at least, that the police officers involved in Floyd’s death were fired — something she said is not easy to do in Baltimore and other cities where police are protected by laws or contracts.
“That was not an option for me in Baltimore because of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights,” Rawlings-Blake said. She said there needs to be “a hard look” at those types of laws and what mayors and police chiefs are able to do in situations of police violence “to ensure that those officers can be taken off the street.”