Obama says no excuse for riots in Baltimore

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President Obama condemned the violence witnessed this week in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray.

“They’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement, they’re stealing,” Obama said at a press conference Tuesday with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

He also said that the deaths of black men by the police is “a slow rolling crisis” that is not new but has new awareness thanks to the proliferation of social media and technology. Obama said that while there is “no excuse’ for the actions of rioters in Baltimore, there are too many troubling interactions between the police and black citizens.

Freddie Gray was arrested on April 12th after fleeing upon seeing the police and died April 19th from a spinal injury that is supposedly a result of the arrest.

Peaceful protests turned to riots after hours after Gray’s funeral on Monday.

“I think the violence is wrong … I don’t like it all,” Fredericka Gray, Freddie Gray’s twin sister, said late Monday night. She also said that Freddie would have abhorred the violence.

The Baltimore mayor’s office says there were 144 vehicle fires, 15 structures fires and nearly 200 arrests in the unrest that broke out in the city. The Maryland Governor Larry hogan declared a state of emergency about three hours after the riots started Monday afternoon.

Hogan temporarily moved his office from the state capital, Annapolis, to Baltimore Tuesday. He surveyed the scene at a West Baltimore intersection that hours earlier had been littered with burning cars, a smashed police vehicle, broken glass and thick plumes of smoke billowing from a looted convenience store.

“We’re not going to leave the city unprotected,” Hogan said.”The city is safer than it was before, and we’re going to continue to build that presence all day.”

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said that the city had prepared for the possibility of disturbances after Freddie Gray’s funeral Monday, but had been overwhelmed.

Transport vehicles of Maryland National Guard troops arrived Tuesday.

Guard spokesman Lt. Charles Kohler says about 500 guardsmen are being deployed in Baltimore on Tuesday, and the force will build to between 2,000 and 5,000 throughout the day. Monday’s riot is the first time the Maryland National Guard has been called up for a civil disturbance in the state since 1968, when Baltimore erupted in violence after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

A citywide curfew will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Gov. Larry Hogan said at a news conference Tuesday that there had been no incidents in the morning, but he does worry about what will happen at night.

 

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