BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After days of peaceful protests in honor of the 25-year-old black West Baltimore man who died in police custody on April 19, demonstrations took a violent turn in Baltimore Saturday.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake held a press conference Saturday alongside community and religious leaders and asked for peace as hundreds marched in Baltimore in honor of Freddie Gray.READ MORE: Closures & Delays: Maryland Schools, Government Offices & Businesses
But when one reporter asked to comment on how Baltimore police responded to the protestors she said she instructed officers to allow protestors to express themselves and that “we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.”
Here’s her full comment:
“I made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech,” Rawlings-Blake said. “It’s a very delicate balancing act. Because while we try to make sure that 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. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate.”
WJZ‘s cameras captured much of the destruction caused by protesters on video:
WATCH: Protester Throws Flaming Trash Can At Police Officers
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WATCH: Protesters Smash Out Windows While Roaming Streets
WATCH: Protesters Obliterate Car
WATCH: Protesters Attack Police Car
Baltimore Police say 31 adults and four juveniles were arrested; six officers suffered minor injuries on Saturday.
On Monday, the mayor’s office sent out clarification for Rawlings-Blake’s statement:
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“What she is saying within this statement was that there was an effort to give the peaceful demonstrators room to conduct their peaceful protests on Saturday. Unfortunately, as a result of providing the peaceful demonstrators with the space to share their message, that also meant that those seeking to incite violence also had the space to operate. The police sought to balance the rights of the peaceful demonstrators against the need to step in against those who were seeking to create violence.
The mayor is not saying that she asked police to give space to people who sought to create violence. Any suggestion otherwise would be a misinterpretation of her statement.”