Baltimore riots bad news for O’Malley 2016?
He hasn’t officially announced a campaign, and will not do so until later in May, however, the former Maryland Governor, Martin O’Malley, is taking heat for some of his policies which were enacted during his tenure as the Mayor of Baltimore from 1999 to 2007. Some argue that O’Malley’s policies regarding crime and police presence contributed to the situation which is currently unfolding in the news around the death of Freddie Gray.
Report from The Daily Beast:
He was supposed to be Hillary’s main rival. But when Martin O’Malley rode back into his battered hometown, he was told to GTFO.
It could have been a breakthrough moment for former Governor Martin O’Malley.
A former mayor/governor/turned potential presidential contender cuts short a series of paid speeches in Europe to return to the still-smoldering city he once governed and where he still lives.
“I just wanted to be present. There’s a lot of pain in our city right now, a lot of people feeling very sad,” O’Malley said Tuesday, according to The Washington Post. “Look, we’ve got to come through this together. We’re a people who’ve seen worse days, and we’ll come through this day.”
But as he hopped in and out of a black Suburban that ferried him from neighborhood to neighborhood torn apart by fire, looters, and poverty, he just became a joke. Worse, for some people, he revealed himself to be a root cause of Baltimore’s problem.
O’Malley was even heckled, according to the Post, as he walked around the streets.
A Baltimore police veteran talking with MSNBC on Wednesday afternoon took it a step further.
“If he’s coming back to town, you may see a riot,” retired Baltimore police officer Neill Franklin said. “I would encourage him to not come to Baltimore.”
One former Maryland Democratic official, who requested anonymity to speak frankly about O’Malley, said his return to Baltimore only hurts his chances for 2016 because it reminds voters elsewhere how unpopular O’Malley was in the state when he left.
In O’Malley’s defense, the only people responsible for burning buildings and throwing rocks, are the people with lighters and rocks in their hands. Blaming a politician is not a valid excuse for destructive, anarchistic behavior.
However, as the Mayor of Baltimore, O’Malley instituted many reforms, such as something called “zero tolerance policing” which, depending on who you ask, caused an increased rift between police and residents in some of Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods. The New York Times gives a good summary of the history which began far before O’Malley took over the city in 1999.
Overall, I don’t know if this is going to hurt him in the long run, but it does highlight why I say he has a mixed record as governor and, apparently, as mayor.