When your city has devolved into violent anarchy and flaming chaos, there are a few responses that would be considered “appropriate” by a reasonable person. Calling in the national guard to help stop the violence and protect local homes and businesses from looters and arsonists. Doubling down on police presence, using officers from neighboring cities if necessary to arrest anyone seen destroying the local drug store in a misguided attempt at expressing their dissatisfaction with the actions of several local police officers. Using riot police to disperse the crowd; emptying a few cans of mace into the destructive, rioting hordes. Something along those lines.
Using police to protect the protesters and giving them plenty of space to destroy, loot and burn down as they pleased certainly falls well outside the bounds of what most people would consider a reasonable response. Yet, that’s exactly what Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake did.
“While we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. And we work very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to deescalate, and that’s what you saw,” she said at press conference.
There’s no word on whether the people of Baltimore, who are paying for the police to protect rioters from passing cars and to replace the police equipment they burn to ashes, as well as any public property they might ruin in their special space for destroying.
Free speech is one thing. Smashing a police vehicle and then lighting it on fire with a police officer still in it is another thing entirely.