With widespread rioting going on in Baltimore last night after the funeral of Freddie Gray, who died after suffering a severe spinal injury while in police custody, Jacque Reid reached out to Senior White House Correspondent April Ryan on what to expect from President Obama and the White House.
“(The President) He’s definitely watching. And it’s escalating. When you have something like this, the White House has to be very conscious on letting the President go out and speak. It’s a fine line on how the White House can handle the situation,” Ryan said. “The White House has put out a statement saying that the President is in conversation with the mayor of Baltimore and the Governor of Maryland.”
Still, given that the Gray case ties into the wide-ranging problems of police killings and brutality nationwide, including cases like Walter Scott’s, people are questioning just what the official governmental response should be. With just one day on the job, newly minted Attorney General Loretta Lynch, a former New York prosecutor who successful prosecuted the cops who raped Haitian immigrant Abner Louima with a billy club, has had to hit the ground running.
“I have been in touch with people that are watching this via social media,” says Ryan. “Everything is popping off around North Street in Baltimore that also houses the Department of Education for Baltimore city. A lot of these officials are finding their students on the streets, not just the parents but the kids. The social media is helping identify some of these kids and also figuring out what’s going on and where they may be going next.”
Ryan has family all over Baltimore from, as she says ‘from the hoodie hood to the upper-middle class.” She says her family and friends are concerned about their businesses and the community.
“We need to utilize all of Baltimore whether it be the hood, the upper class or the middle class. There is no part of Baltimore that we are not connected to. I’m in that community. There are great churches in that community. People are fearful right now. They are scared.”
Ryan is hopeful that the deployment of the Guard can help contain the community.
“The kids see that they’ve got international attention and that’s fueling their push. From my ride in from Washington to my home outside of Baltimore I didn’t see any police officers. I believe it’s because they are all down there. I’m just hoping that the curfew and the police presence really make a difference. Because you can’t have a lawless Baltimore. You cannot. And these kids realize the damage they are doing to themselves and their future in our community.”
The viral video of the mother who slapped her son when she saw him out rioting has been identified, Ryan says but by the community, not by the media.
“This is now criminal. They are looking at the tapes to see if the kids did something. The mother has been identified but people are keeping it low right now. She did a good thing. She did a really good thing. Everybody is saying that she’s went old school.”
Ryan says that officials in Baltimore should have expected the response that is now being broadcast over the airwaves because most of it was highlighted on social media.
“It was something two days ago, over the weekend. They had this planned. This was Sunday. If the city did not know this, they better know it now. Now they have another mall they are targeting and I saw that on social media. Instagram, Facebook, it is out there. We are seeing it. Everything they said they were going to do, they did it last night. Mondowmin Mall is one of the oldest black malls in the nation, right around the corner from Druid Hill park. It’s the mecca of the Black community. It’s a lot going on. I just hope they can get it together and pull it together for our children and for he future of our community.”
Click the link above to hear the entire interview.