BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Fraternal Order of Police is firing back after the Baltimore police commissioner said it was tactically unsafe for the “few officers in position” to dispel a group of protesters who toppled the statue of Christopher Columbus and threw pieces into the harbor over the weekend.

FOP President Mike Mancuso said Tuesday, that there were “several teams of highly-trained officers nearby and at the ready” and they were “left wondering why they were not deployed.”

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Mancuso called Harrison’s comments deceiving, adding the group should not be called protesters but instead criminals.

Here are Harrison’s comments in full:

“As the Baltimore Police Department was responding to several life and death incidents across the city, a small number of officers were assigned to assist with peaceful protests taking place in the downtown area. As the number of protesters grew, it was tactically unsafe for those few officers to position themselves between the protestors and the Christopher Columbus Statue in attempt to prevent vandalism and destruction. While we strongly oppose the destruction of property in our city, we will continue to mitigate any risk of injury to protestors and our officers. A full investigation of the destruction and vandalism of the statue is underway and we intend to hold those violators accountable.” 


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Crews removed most of the statue from the harbor Monday.

It took a crane and divers to pull up pieces of the statue out of the water near Little Italy. Now, the Italian community is vowing to put the Columbus statue back together again.

The statue was pulled down Saturday night, then dragged across the brick pavers before protesters tossed it into the harbor.

Videos showed the crowd cheering as the bust went into the water.

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A spokesman from Baltimore Mayor Jack Young said the mayor has instructed the police commissioner to arrest those involved if they are able to identify anyone, and he does not agree with “the defacing of the statues nor the destruction of property.”