Protests over the death of a black man who apparently suffered fatal injuries while in police custody in Baltimore grew violent over the weekend. Fox News reports that dozens of protestors were arrested and six officers injured during volatile street demonstrations that saw police cars as well as a number of stores damaged as authorities tried to control the rowdy crowds.
“…a smaller “splinter group” looted a convenience store and threw tables and chairs through storefront windows, shattering the glass. One group smashed the window of a department store inside a downtown mall and, at one point, a protester tossed a flaming metal garbage can toward a line of police officers in riot gear as they tried to push back the crowd.”
Baltimore’s Police Commissioner Anthony Batts indicated that the “very violent agitators” were not residents of the city but came in from the outside to cause trouble. The death of Freddie Gray on April 19th has led to almost daily protests over his alleged mistreatment by police who had taken him into custody a week earlier.
In a news conference over the weekend, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, while calling for calm in the city, made what many consider an astonishing admission about her instructions to police trying to maintain crowd control. It was an instruction that, according to the mayor’s own words, gave protestors protections far beyond their First Amendment rights to free speech.
Mayor Rawlings-Blake told reporters, “We also gave those who wished to destroy, space to do that as well,” thus giving what appeared to be a clear signal to rioters that their destruction of public and private property was a legitimate expression of their anger.
By clicking on the video above, you can watch the mayor’s shocking expansion of the “rights” of race rioters in Baltimore, with the relevant portion of her news conference beginning at approximately the 7:27 mark in the video.
BCN editor’s note: This article first appeared at Western Journalism.