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by Peter Moskos

April 28, 2015

"Space to Destroy"

I still can't get over the Mayor saying "We also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well."

[Update: Though now I understand, thanks to a comment by Matt and others in a previous post, what I think she was trying to say:
From the video, it appears she did indeed mean that the city inadvertently provided space for those to destroy through their attempts to provide space for protest. Also from the video, the guy on the left of the screen (one of her own who was likely privy to the content of her speech prior) clearly heard the more inflammatory version. People make mistakes, they misspeak; she just needs to clarify her position, wring her hands, and call for an end to the destruction. It wouldn't hurt if she called on protestors to do their best to police their own... using different language of course.]

Now this isn't some gotcha moment, but when I ask a cop fighting the riots why the riots started, he said, "The mayor gave them permission." I had no idea what he was talking about. I sounded like some right-wing lie. But this police officer isn't right wing. He's also African-American.

I wasn't convinced that the mayor said this. But regardless, I asked, "But so what? It's not like the people out there burning shit listened to the mayor's press conference. They don't even know who the mayor is!"

"Word gets out. Through the leaders of the community. It trickles down. That was the message."

So I found and watched the video. Now I don't know what the mayor meant to say. But this is what she said. I thought she was going to correct herself. She didn't. Maybe it's exactly what she meant. Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is in way over her head.

(And look at the guy on screen-left having a "what chu talking 'bout, Willis" moment.)

Here are two links to the same press conference (in case one link dies in the future).




Anonymous said...


"Those kids were set up, they were treated like criminals before the first brick was thrown."

The facts of the handling of the situation aren't in dispute. Though the motivation and repercussions might be.

Moskos said...

I'm not ready to Monday morning quarterback yet, because the game is still on. (though I do wish the mayor and police commissioner had a better Saturday night game plan.)

But best I can tell right now, yes, the spark seemed to be the appearance of riot police at the mall before any violence has happened.

Violence *may* have happened anyway. But a line of shielded riot police in front of a bunch of rowdy school kids is an absolute guaranteed way to start a battle.

Anonymous said...

"....a line of shielded riot police in front of a bunch of rowdy school kids is an absolute guaranteed way to start a battle."

This implies a very very low set of expectations for the behavior of 14-16 yr.-olds.

Moskos said...

Yes. It sure does. And I say it with confidence and from experience.

Keep in mind -- and this doesn't just relate to kids, from a police perspective it relates to *all* groups -- it doesn't matter how many are good. All that matters is how many are bad, disruptive, and otherwise causing trouble.

I don't mean to pick on Baltimore, it wasn't that much different in my high school, but if you have a large group of teenage school kids, there *will* be problems. And that is especially true in Baltimore.