Paraphrasing the title of a song Linda Ronstadt made famous, the tune the Associated Press's Juliet Linderman sang Saturday morning in the wake of Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's decision to not to seek reelection was: "Poor, Poor, Pitiful She."
That's right. Rawlings-Blake is a victim who is being "dogged by critics who questioned whether she was fit to lead." Linderman made that portrayal possible by ignoring, as the press has for months, two important things enough Baltimore residents to matter surely remember. The first is that the Mayor admitted to making a conscious decision to allow rioting to occur on the night of Saturday, April 25. The second, publicly exposed by a sheriff from another Maryland county who came to Baltimore hoping to help preserve order, is that she ordered police to stand down, giving rioters free rein to pillage and plunder on Monday, April 27.
Here are the first three paragraphs from Linderman's writeup (bolds are mine):
DOGGED BY CRITICS, BALTIMORE MAYOR DROPS RE-ELECTION BID
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is abandoning her re-election bid, dogged by critics who questioned whether she was fit to lead a city still reeling from a black man's mysterious death from injuries received while in police custody.
The mayor of this majority black city, still 15 months away from election day, said at a news conference Friday that she wanted to focus on governing, not campaigning. Rawlings-Blake said she wanted to guide the city through a difficult time and pointed to her achievements: ethics reforms to combat fraud, reducing the city's $100 million budget deficit by half, adding 12,000 jobs and demolishing more than 3,000 vacant structures.
Her five years in office have been marred in the months since Freddie Gray's death, however. In April, the day of Gray's funeral, rioters smashed windows, set fires and caused millions of dollars in damage. In the aftermath, the head of an already troubled police department was fired, with one of his deputies tapped to restore trust in the community.
"The day of Gray's funeral" was Monday, April 27.
She also ignored the Rawlings-Blake's press conference the following day, when she publicly admitted that she allowed the rioting to occur:
Transcript (bolds are mine):
"... and I've 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."
"It's a very delicate balancing act, because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other, y'know, things that were going on, um, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. And we, uh, work very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate, and that's what you saw."
Linderman treated the more serious damage which occurred on April 27, which was really the second day of rioting, almost as if it was inevitable and unavoidable.
Not according to Wicomico County, Maryland Sheriff Michael Lewis. CBS Baltimore and other local media outlets reported his contention that police were prevented from doing their jobs that night:
Sheriff: ‘I Was Sick To My Stomach’ After Being Told To Stand Down
A Maryland sheriff who traveled to Baltimore to help law enforcement stop Monday’s riots told 105.7 The Fan that he was stunned when officers alerted him of the orders to stand down.
Michael Lewis is the Sheriff in Wicomico County, and was also a Sergeant with the Maryland State Police. He joined Ed Norris and Steve Davis on Thursday to talk about the alleged controversial orders the police were given during the riots.
... what shocked him the most, he said, was when city police told him not to confront and accost the rioters.
“I was sick to my stomach like everybody else. … This was urban warfare, no question about it. They were coming in absolutely beaten down. The [city officers] got out of their vehicles, thanked us profusely for being there, apologized to us for having to be there.
They said we could have handled this, we were very capable of handling this, but we were told to stand down, repeatedly told to stand down,” he said. “I had never heard that order come from anyone — we went right out to our posts as soon as we got there, so I never heard the mayor say that. But repeatedly these guys, and there were many high-ranking officials from the Baltimore City Police Department … and these guys told me they were essentially neutered from the start. They were spayed from the start. They were told to stand down, you will not take any action, let them destroy property.
I couldn’t believe it, I’m a 31-year veteran of law enforcement. … I had never heard anything like this before in my life and these guys obviously aren’t gonna speak out and the more I thought about this, … I had to say a few things. I apologize if I’ve upset people, but I believe in saying it like it is.”
Lewis said though he didn’t hear the order to stand down come from the mayor, he did hear it from police officials.
Rawlings-Blake has denied that a stand-down order ever occurred. It seems inconceivable that Lewis would have just made all of this up out of thin air.
Sorry, Juliet Linderman. Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is not a victim of her "critics." The City of Baltimore is the victim of her failure to carry out her most basic duty to protect citizens' lives and property. It's only a slight consolation that its residents won't have to endure her reelection effort.
Make that "very slight." The cast of characters attempting to succeed Rawlings-Blake include Sheila Dixon, the city's previous mayor. Dixon was criminally convicted five years ago, but somehow managed to avoid jail, remains eligible to collect an annual pension of over $80,000, and, having completed four years of probation, now has no criminal record. It's early, but it appears that Dixon and the other announced candidates, all Democrats, who are running for mayor are intent on ensuring that the city continues down its current destructive course.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.