As Baltimore reels from Monday night’s riots stemming from the death of Freddie Gray, two Republicans eyeing the Oval Office are making some very controversial remarks about who and what is to blame.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has officially thrown his hat into the 2016 ring, told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham on Monday that “I came through the train on Baltimore last night, I’m glad the train didn’t stop.” He also said the “lack of fathers” and a “lack of moral code in our society” should eventually be examined for the “thievery and thuggery” that has taken place in Maryland’s largest city. The GOPer added “this isn’t just a racial thing. It goes across racial boundaries.”
Separately, billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump – who claims he’s seriously considering running for president – took aim at President Obama, blaming him for the violence and invoking his race in the process.
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“Our great African American president hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday, resulting in a backlash on Twitter with many accusing the billionaire businessman of being racist.
Trump called on Obama to “go to Baltimore and bring both sides together. With proper leadership, it can be done! Do it.” Trump also criticized the Baltimore police for allowing “the city to be destroyed,” and asked if U.S. taxpayers were expected to pay for the damage.
Others considering running for president were more tempered in their remarks as Baltimore authorities and even the National Guard brace for the possibility of more protests on Tuesday. On Monday night, approximately 200 people were arrested while 144 cars and 15 buildings were set on fire. The rioting and looting took place after a funeral for Gray, a 25-year-old, black Baltimore man who died last week after suffering a spinal cord injury in police custody. It’s been the latest in a string of demonstrations as the nation struggles with questions over how law enforcement and authorities treat black men.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced on Twitter that after speaking to Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, he will be deploying 150 New Jersey State Police and personnel “to help ensure a peaceful resolution for the city and people of Baltimore.” He said Garden State cops will be on the ground for an initial 72 hours.
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Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas released a statement saying American families are “scared” and that no one living in the country should fear for their safety. He called on the government to “preserve the peace, protect the people and serve justice.” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker tweeted, “Our prayers for restoration of peace in Baltimore.” Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, who is in Puerto Rico, told reporters that there must be a commitment to the rule of law and to law enforcement, but at the same time the incident should be investigated as quickly as possible so Americans can have confidence in the system.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who is expected to make his 2016 intentions known on May 4, tweeted that as a former Baltimore resident “it is very sad and unfortunate to see the destruction taking place by irresponsible individuals.” He later told GQ that while the violence could be indicative of larger problems surrounding police, Americans shouldn’t be quick to judge.
“We need to get to the bottom of any problems of discrimination. But the larger issue here is, how do you react when something is wrong? If you have an unpleasant experience with a plumber, do you go out and declare a war on all plumbers? Or teachers or doctors? Of course not. And it makes no sense to do that with police either,” said Carson.
On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she is “praying for peace & safety for all in Baltimore, & for Freddie Gray’s family—his death is a tragedy that demands answers.” And former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley—who is considering taking on Clinton in the Democratic primary – said he’s “saddened that the city I love is in such pain this night. All of us share a profound feeling of grief for Freddie Gray and his family.”
Baltimore police are currently investigating the circumstances of Gray’s death and have said they will issue a report by May 1.