It’s getting harder and harder to deny the connection between the riots in Baltimore and previous events in Ferguson, Mo.
After a second night of quiet in Baltimore, brought on by a curfew and heightened police presence, both conspicuously absent during Monday night’s rioting, Fox News is reporting that the mayor of Baltimore ordered police to stand down during the civil unrest.
Citing a senior law enforcement source, correspondent Leland Vittert told Fox News host Neil Cavuto on Wednesday that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake instructed police Monday to “let them loot.”
“This is coming from a very senior law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the orders that were given by the mayor and by her police commanders, down to the very core of the police riot control units,” Vittert said.
“What I am quoting now from him is, quoting the mayor, ‘Let them loot, it’s only property.’”
Vittert added that his source was “very clear that on Monday night, that when [businesses] were looted, that the police were told effectively to stand down and watch it. I was standing right here on Monday night. The police were about 75 yards up there… That’s what we saw happen.”
When later asked if she issued such an order, Rawlings-Blake danced around the question.
“No, but you have to understand; It’s not holding back, it’s responding appropriately,” she told Fox News’s Bill Hemmer.
Rawlings-Blake testified back in January before President Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force, formed in the aftermath of events in Ferguson, according to the Baltimore Sun. She was critical of police as she spoke on building relationships of trust between law enforcement and the community.
“They need to learn more than logistics of policing, but also the broader significance of their role in our society,” she said.
Police in Ferguson were criticized for responding with too much force in the early days of unrest, followed by the National Guard being held back on the orders of Missouri Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon while rioters burned businesses and looted in response to a grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown.
Baltimore’s mayor was already taking considerable heat for previously saying the city “gave those who wished to destroy space to do that” — a remark that is beginning to come into clearer focus.
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