Controversial Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has blasted rioters who have turned the city into a war zone after defending herself from suggestions she urged police to give protesters space “to destroy.”
“It is idiotic to think that by destroying your city you’re going to make life better for anybody,” she said at a press conference on Monday evening.
“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,” she added.
The mayor spoke out after rioters hurled bricks at police officers, looted stores and set cars and businesses as a national debate raged over the police use of force, particularly where black suspects are involved.
Baltimore went up in smoke hours after 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died of a spinal cord injury while in police custody, was laid to rest.
There were fears of more bloodshed after three of the city’s most violent and dangerous gangs – Black Guerrilla Family, Crips and Blood – announced an unprecedented alliance to “take out” law enforcement officers.
Here’s what you need to know about Mayor Rawlings-Blake
1. She Has Declared a Weeklong Citywide Curfew in Baltimore From 10pm to 5am
The mayor has announced the establishment of a one-week curfew from 10 pm to 5 am.
Rawlings-Blake said she has been working closely with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who agreed to activate the National Guard.
2. She ‘Instructed’ Police to Allow Space For Protesters ‘Who Wished to Destroy’
Rawlings-Blake sparked outrage on Saturday after appearing to say that she told police officers combating the rioters to give “those who wish to destroy space to do that as well.”
But she sought to explain her remarks later, claiming they had been misrepresented by the media.
She said on her Facebook page: “There has been some discussion about my remarks on Saturday, some of which were taken out of context. I want to clarify—I did not instruct police to give space to protesters who were seeking to create violence or destruction of property.
“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. And we worked very hard to put ourselves in the best position to deescalate those instances.”
3. She Was Criticized by Rush Limbaugh
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh led the backlash against Rawling-Blake’s comment that protesters “who wished to destroy” should be given space.
“This is incredible. I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Limbaugh said, according to The Daily Caller. “I do not recall, I’m sure other mayors have said things that are similar. But I don’t recall a mayor saying while we try to make sure they were protected from the cars and other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.
“What? That’s one of the most disqualifying statements ever made by a politician. There’s no rational explanation to give for that. I don’t pretend to know what’s going on in Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s mind. I could make a pretty good guess, since she’s a lib.”
Appearing on “The Lead” with host Jake Tapper Monday, CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes also slammed Rawlings-Blake’s comments.
Fuentes, a former FBI assistant director, said the comment was “so absurd, I don’t know how to respond,” while wondering if the mayor wanted to turn police cars and officers along with public buildings into “piñatas” for people “to whack at.”
4. She Appeared in the Stage Show ‘Chicago’ For a Single Performance
In 2015, Rawlings-Blake, 45, became the first mayor to appear in Chicago, saying “I am honored to be the first mayor to appear in Chicago—one of the most historic shows in Broadway history—and I want to reassure the cast and crew that I am already hard at work rehearsing my lines,” she said in Playbill.
“I always love to show off the ‘razzle dazzle’ of Baltimore’s flourishing cultural scene, from expanding our Arts & Entertainment Districts, to growing Baltimore’s downtown theater corridor and all that jazz. I cannot wait to make my big debut in an amazing show like Chicago.”
She appeared in a one night performance on March 4, 2015, as an ensemble performer throughout the night.
5. She Was The Youngest Person Ever Elected to Baltimore City Council
Born on March 17, 1970, Rawlings-Blake is a 1988 graduate of Baltimore’s Western High School, and in 1992 she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, according to her official city bio.
She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1995. She lives in Baltimore’s Coldspring neighborhood with her husband Kent Blake and their young daughter Sophia.
Rawlings-Blake served as City Council President from January 2007 to February 2010. She was first elected to the City Council in 1995, at the age of 25—the youngest person ever elected to the Baltimore City Council. She represented the council’s 5th District from 1995 to 2004 and the 6th District from 2004 to 2007, serving communities throughout West and Northwest Baltimore. As Council President, she chaired the City’s Board of Estimates, which supervises all purchasing by the City. From 1998 to 2006, Rawlings-Blake was an attorney with the Baltimore Office of the Public Defender.