[guest post by Dana]
Yesterday I posted about an allegation from a senior law enforcement officer that the mayor of Baltimore had given a directive to officers to let protesters loot, claiming that it was only property.
Mayor Rawlings-Blake, in a bit of verbal gymnastics, denied giving a stand-down order:
“You have to understand, it is not holding back. It is responding appropriately”
Today, Sheriff Michael Lewis of Wicomico County, who traveled to Baltimore to help the officers stop the rioting, was interviewed:
We were assigned to assigned to protect Baltimore City Police headquarters, all of E. Fayette Street up to City Hall, to include City Hall. There wasn’t a whole lot of activity taking place at all. We could smell that putrid smell of burning tires and a city on fire when as we came into the city. Had lots of concerns like everyone else. We maintained our post all night long until we were relieved.”
But 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.”