On Monday evening, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced a weeklong curfew following widespread violence after the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. The decision came two days after she sparked controversy by suggesting that her administration had given “those who wished to destroy” the “space” to do so.
Her comments, made on Saturday, generated immense criticism and many questioned whether she had been successful in striking a balance between the freedom to protest and the safety of the community. Reacting to the controversy, Rawlings-Blake released a statement alleging that her comments had been “taken out of context.”
“Taken in context, I explained that, in giving peaceful demonstrators room to share their message, unfortunately, those who were seeking to incite violence also had space to operate,” Rawlings-Blake said, in a statement posted on her Facebook page. “I want to clarify -- I did not instruct police to give space to protesters who were seeking to create violence or destruction of property.”
Rawlings-Blake, a Democrat, assumed office as the 49th mayor of Baltimore in 2010, after her predecessor Sheila Dixon was convicted for embezzlement. In November 2011, she was elected to her first full term as mayor, receiving 87 percent of the vote in the mayoral general election.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Baltimore City Council from 2007 onward, 12 years after becoming the youngest person to be elected to the council.
During the current crisis in the city, which has seen rioters hurling bricks at police officers, looting stores and setting cars on fire, Rawlings-Blake has been working closely with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who on Monday, activated the National Guard, though there have been reports of tensions between her office and the governor's.
“My resolve remains strong. We will not let our city continue to devolve into chaos at the hands of thugs,” she said, late on Monday. “Too many people have spend generations building up this city for it to be destroyed by thugs who, in a very senseless way, are trying to tear down what so many have fought for.”