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Documents Reveal How Baltimore City Responded To Unrest Following Freddie Gray's Death
- New details are emerging in court documents surrounding how city officials responded to the 2015 unrest following the death of Freddie Gray. Paul Gessler, live for us, "New At 6:00" tonight. And Paul, you read through those filings. What did you find?
PAUL GESSLER: Well, [? Vic, ?] [? that ?] 273 page filing from the city of Baltimore attorneys includes depositions from then-mayor, Stephanie Rawlings Blake, former police commissioner Anthony Batts, and a score of other city officials. City Police leadership said officers were deployed in mass to Mondawmin, April 27, 2015 in direct response to rumors on social media of a purge predicting lawlessness. Police seem to identify a West Baltimore teen as the source of the rumor that day before, but it's unclear what efforts they took to confirm the rumors' credibility.
These details in response to a lawsuit against the city brought by dozens of businesses. The city wants the suit thrown out, arguing its handling of the 2015 unrest, quote, "should be considered a success in comparison to protests in Ferguson and Minneapolis after the deaths of Michael Brown and George Floyd." City officials say their request for aid from the state were largely ignored. And an email from the state's emergency management showed the governor had, quote, "no intent that Saturday to authorize a state of emergency." The governor's office points out those emails make no direct request for assistance.
In his deposition last month, the former police commissioner, Anthony Batts, says he and others begged for more resources for more than a week leading up to April 27. A spokesperson for the governor says the testimony under oath is an attempt at revisionist history. In his book, Hogan said then-mayor, Stephanie Rawlings Blake was, quote, "paralyzed with fear and indecision." Recounting how he saved the city, Batts says when he asked the mayor to declare a state of emergency, she jumped on it.
Of the police response, the former mayor said, introduction of military equipment like that used in Ferguson would have only escalated the situation. So business owners and employees argue that they were physically injured that day, their businesses sustaining damage as well. I reached out to the attorney representing those businesses for comment today. I have not heard back. For now reporting live "at "6:00" tonight, I'm Paul Gessler for "WJZ."