BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Governor Larry Hogan has declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to address the growing violence and unrest in Baltimore City.
“I have not made this decision lightly. The National Guard represents a last resort in order to restore order,” Hogan said during a news conference Monday night. “People have the right to protest and express their frustration, but Baltimore City families deserve peace and safety in their communities and these acts of violence and destruction of property cannot and will not be tolerated.”
Hogan said he executed the request 30 seconds after it was made by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Some residents questioned why it took the mayor so long to respond to the crisis, and Hogan made some poignant remarks to that effect as well.
“When the mayor called me, which quite frankly we were glad that she finally did, instantly we signed the executive order. We already had our entire team prepared,” he said. “We were trying to get in touch with the mayor for quite some time, she finally made that call and we immediately took action.”
Major General Linda Singh, the adjutant general of the Maryland Army National Guard, said during the news conference that the guard would be out in activation beginning Monday night. Up to 5,000 troops were available to patrol the streets and protect property.
Hogan said he spoke to President Obama at length about the violence.
“He supports our actions 100 percent. We talked about the fact that we’ve gotta find — everybody believes we need to get to the answers and resolve this situation, the concern that everybody has about what exactly happened in the Freddie Gray incident. That’s one whole situation. This is an entirely different situation. This is lawless gangs of thugs roaming the streets, causing damage to property and injuring innocent people, and we’re not gonna tolerate that,” he said.
Earlier today, a group of protestors clashed with police officers. Arrests were made in the incident, but unfortunately, some officers were hurt.
“It’s obviously very disappointing to us as Marylanders and people who love the city of Baltimore. What started out as a peaceful protest … I would say 95 percent of the people involved were conducting themselves in a very peaceful manner, it was well under control. We had a lot of outside agitators come in from around the country, and we had some rogue gangs and young people that were just out looking to cause problems,” Hogan said.