PROTESTS CONTINUE, SPREAD: Danielle Sweeney and Fern Shen of Baltimore Brew reports that thousands of mostly young demonstrators flooded the streets of Baltimore Wednesday afternoon, perhaps the largest crowd yet to demand justice for Freddie Gray after the unexplained fatal spinal injury suffered by the 25-year-old during his arrest by police.
- Thousands of people hit the streets in Baltimore and other cities, including Boston, New York, Indianapolis and Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to protest the death of a black man who died of spinal injuries after his arrest and to demand reforms to police procedures, according to an AP report in the Hagerstown Herald Mail.
- “This could be you,” Korey Johnson screamed at a crowd of several hundred students in Towson University on Wednesday, writes Larry Perl in the Towson Times. Johnson helped organize a peaceful but vociferous rally prompted by the death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a spinal cord injury while in police custody. His death has led to protests and riots in Baltimore. On Wednesday, the discontent spilled over into Baltimore County and the university.
AA DELEGATE CALLS FOR MAYOR’S RESIGNATION: Anne Arundel Del. Sid Saab is calling for the Baltimore mayor’s resignation, citing a lack of leadership and a comment Baltimore officials say has been distorted by conservatives, reports Chase Cook in the Capital Gazette. The Crownsville delegate tweeted on Monday: “Madam Mayor, the only space that those who wish to destroy should be given is prison.” He followed with several tweets with the “resign now” hashtag.
MAYOR CALLS GOVERNOR INEXPERIENCED: Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake today defended her decision to wait until Monday evening to ask Gov. Larry Hogan to call out the National Guard, saying she has much more experience than he in handling a major crisis. She attributed Hogan’s eagerness to send troops to Baltimore as early as Saturday to the “anxiety” of someone who has not been confronted by the multiple crises she has during her five years as mayor, writes Mark Reutter in the Baltimore Brew. “I know that he’s a new executive of anything. So I can understand that anxiety.” “I’ve been tested,” she continued, adding, “I’m not going to second-guess what he was thinking. It would be nice to have that same courtesy from him.”
A NEIGHBORHOOD REALITY CHECK: Regina Catipon, Renee Klahr and Yaqi Liu of Capital News Service, writing in MarylandReporter.com, describe what Freddie Gray’s Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood is really like. It is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Baltimore and the lives of its residents are 15 years shorter than in Baltimore’s wealthiest community.
HOGAN IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports that Gov. Larry Hogan has been thrust in the national spotlight with his handling of the crisis. “How the former real estate executive goes about addressing it, pundits say, could shape not only the rest of his first term, but also his political future,” she writes.
- Hogan paid a visit Wednesday to the West Baltimore neighborhood where a police arrest started the chain of events that led to rioting, shooting hoops with residents and meeting with NAACP officials. The governor’s late morning tour of Sandtown-Winchester came within blocks of the site where Baltimore police chased down Freddie Gray, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.
THE FALLOUT: Jonathan O’Connell of the Post writes that Baltimore has labored in recent years to transform itself from a hub of manufacturing and steel production to one known for trendy neighborhoods, growing tourism and Under Armour, the homegrown sports apparel empire. But since violent clashes Monday night after the funeral of Freddie Gray, the world has seen Baltimore’s businesses and attractions shuttered, conventions canceled and a few retail outlets looted and burned out.
- More upcoming events at the Baltimore Convention Center were canceled or rescheduled following Monday’s riots, and nearby restaurants and hotels are already feeling the squeeze, Daniel Leaderman reports for the Daily Record.
- Adam Bednar of the Daily Record writes that exactly how much and what help residents will get from government agencies is still being worked out. Gov. Larry Hogan said the state would be working with the U.S. Small Business Administration to help local businesses that may not have insurance recover from the riots. Rachel Howard, spokeswoman for the SBA in Baltimore, said it’s still unclear what aid will be made available to these businesses, and she directed questions to the White House.
- Three upcoming conventions have backed out of Baltimore in the wake of riots Monday night writes Sarah Meehan in the Baltimore Business Journal. Meeting planners canceled a citywide convention that would have brought more than 2,000 visitors to Baltimore later this week. As a result of the violence, the Door and Hardware Institute canceled its ConNEXTions 2015 convention that would have been held at the Baltimore Convention Center April 29-May 1.
PLANK ADDRESSES UNREST IN BALTIMORE: Under Armour Inc. CEO Kevin Plank didn’t waste any time at the company’s annual shareholders meeting before addressing the unrest in Baltimore surrounding the death of Freddie Gray. It was the first item on his agenda reports Sarah Meehan in the Baltimore Business Journal. “Like many, Under Armour is deeply saddened by the events in our home town, and our thoughts and prayers go out to Freddie Gray’s family,” he said. “But we are one Baltimore and we will work towards positive change…The people of Baltimore are resilient and we’re going to be better because of all of this.”
PHOTOS AFTER THE RIOT: The Atlantic runs a series of credited photos from the day following the riots in Baltimore, in which people come together to clean up. Buzzfeed ran a bunch of photos as well, claiming they were the most powerful images from the riots. We disagree. But even more importantly, none were credited so we aren’t linking to them.
TAKEAWAYS: The Post’s Michael Fletcher has lived in Baltimore for more than 30 years. He writes a personal perspective. “It was only a matter of time before Baltimore exploded. In the more than three decades I have called this city home, Baltimore has been a combustible mix of poverty, crime, and hopelessness, uncomfortably juxtaposed against rich history, friendly people, venerable institutions and pockets of old-money affluence. The two Baltimores have mostly gone unreconciled. The violence that followed Freddie Gray’s funeral Monday, with roaming gangs looting stores and igniting fires, demands that something be done.”
- David Graham of the Atlantic addresses a series of problems that led to the Monday’s turmoil in Baltimore: “It’s the police who are investigating (Freddie) Gray’s death—even though he was in a police van, visible to only officers of the law, when he sustained the spinal injuries that killed him. The police may also have mishandled protests on Monday, allowing them to escalate and turn into looting and rioting. Nor did other traditional sources of power and influence acquit themselves especially well: The mayor seemed unprepared and beleaguered, the media often missed or obscured what was happening, and traditional community leaders seemed to have little sway.”
- At first, the word “thug” was so consistently used by city, state and even national leaders to describe the Baltimore rioters — many of them teenagers — that it seemed a deliberate, coordinated effort to send a message, writes the editorial board of the Sun. Gov. Larry Hogan, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and City Council President Jack Young all decried the “thugs” hurling rocks at police, looting stores and setting fires throughout the city. But Tuesday, on the same day President Obama joined in the refrain condemning the “handful of criminals and thugs who tore up the place,” both Rawlings-Blake and Young backed away from the term.
OBAMA STEPS UP, OR IN IT? Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico boils down President Obama’s six principles on race in America. “Really, the six points boiled down to one point: ‘This has been a slow-rolling crisis. This has been going on a long time.’ ‘If we think that we’re just going to send police to do the dirty work of containment, we’re not going to solve this problem,’ Obama said. … People only seem to care, Obama said, when there’s a building burning, when cable news takes a break from chasing missing airplanes and goes on riot patrol.”
- But Rich Lowry of the National Review disagrees with Obama and writes in an op-ed in Politico that the problem with Baltimore is the Democrats. “This is a failure exclusively of Democrats, unless the root causes of Baltimore’s troubles are to be traced to its last Republican mayor, Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin, who left office in 1967. And it is an indictment of a failed model of government.”
- President Obama on Wednesday blamed the response to Freddie Gray’s death on years of disinvestment in city neighborhoods, reports John Fritze in the Sun. “There’s been no effort to reinvest and rebuild in these communities,” Obama said on the Steve Harvey Morning Show, on WHUR in D.C. “If you send police officers into those situations, where the drug trade is the primary economy… and you say that your job basically is to contain that…then it’s not surprising that you end up with a situation of enormous tension.”
CLINTON ON BALTIMORE: Politico’s Playbook rounds up a series of Hillary Clinton quotes concerning Baltimore, including her call for an end to mass incarceration and for body cameras for all police.
O’MALLEY DEFENDS RECORD: John Wagner of the Post reports that former Gov. Martin O’Malley, in his second day on the streets of Baltimore, continues to defend his zero tolerance policy toward crime when he was mayor of the city. He also largely brushed off thoughts that this could harm his presidential ambitions.
- A day after he was heckled by residents in West Baltimore, O’Malley visited a church in the area Wednesday to help distribute food to people affected by this week’s riots, writes Alison Knezevich in the Sun. The national spotlight on policing issues in Baltimore could complicate O’Malley’s pitch as a successful, tough-on-crime mayor who turned the city around.”In all my years of mayor I never had one community leader ever ask for less of a police presence in their neighborhood,” he said. He said his stance on crime helped save lives.
LYNCH PRAISES BALTIMORE: U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, making her first public remarks since being sworn into the post earlier this week, offered her condolences to the family of Freddie Gray on Wednesday and said that Justice Department officials had met with an injured police officer, writes John Fritze in the Sun. Lynch, who on Monday became the first African American female to lead the Justice Department, praised city leaders and residents for what appeared to be a de-escalation of violence on Tuesday following riots that broke out just 24 hours before.
CARE PACKAGES FOR POLICE: Folks on the Shore who are looking for a way to help the Baltimore City Police and the hundreds of other law enforcement agencies who have been called to help in Baltimore now have a way. The Easton Star Democrat reports that police supporter Michelle Radau has joined two other supporters on the western shore to collect care packages for police officers working in Baltimore to help control the unrest.
NO PROPERTY TAX HIKE: Maryland residents and businesses won’t see an increase in the state property tax in the coming year, even as state officials note that growing payments on bonds could necessitate one in the future, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.
HOGAN’S BUDGET HOPES: Gov. Larry Hogan had high ambitions for his first budget, writes Charlie Hayward in an analysis for MarylandReporter.com. Hogan said it was an “attempt to reverse the unsustainable fiscal path we have been following and break the cycle that this state has found itself in year after year.” To do that the budget increased “general spending by only 0.5% while the rate of revenue growth is 3.5% – an important step that will begin to bring the budget into a prudent balance.” These claims are substantially true.