Alveda King: Baltimore mayor invited violence

Thursday, April 30, 2015
Michael F. Haverluck (

In an open letter to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Dr. Alveda King lambasted her for inciting rioters to continue their barrage of the city — in protest of the alleged police-custody murder of an unarmed black man — asking her how she could give them "free space" to destroy.

A Closer LookKing, the niece of renowned black civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., called Rawlings-Blake out after her admission of desiring to provide space for Baltimore rioters "who wished to destroy" in protest against the death and alleged torture of Freddie Gray, who was captured on video during his arrest.

Rawlings-Blake essentially gave Baltimore rioters a free ticket to break the law and destroy the city without consequences.

"I've made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech," Rawlings-Blake announced at a Saturday night press conference.

"It's a very delicate balancing act, because 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."

Encouraging mayhem?

King, who like her father and iconic uncle has championed peaceful protests for decades, chastised Rawlings-Blake for encouraging uncivil and unproductive lawlessness.

"Your invitation to 'give space for those who want to destroy' is unbelievable," King addressed Rawlings-Blake in her letter. "This interpretation of rights to free speech is dangerous, Ma'am."

She also challenged the mayor for inciting behavior that directly contradicts the message that her uncle strived to impress upon African-Americans half a century ago in the midst of the civil rights movement.


"In 1963, my father Rev. AD King, after the firebombing of our home in Birmingham, Alabama, urged hostile protestors to abandon violence and turn to God in prayer instead," King expressed to Baltimore's mayor. "Thank God they listened to him, and the even greater voice of his brother, my Uncle MLK, during those turbulent days."

King ended her address to Rawlings-Blake by reminding her who would have to pay for all the destruction she gave rioters license to wreak.

"Now, you are inviting violence to your city?" King asked the mayor. "Who, Ma'am, will incur the moral and economic costs of picking up the pieces? The innocent taxpayers?"

Stand down?

After the Baltimore Police Department reported that rioting gangs had banded to pose a "credible threat" to "take out" the officers following Freddie Gray's funeral on Monday, the two groups clashed, which ended in several officers being wounded. By the end of the discord, 15 officers sustained substantial injuries.

"This afternoon, a group of outrageous criminals attacked our officers," Baltimore Police Captain Eric Kowalczyk announced to the media in a statement. "Right now, we have seven officers that have serious injuries, including broken bones, and one officer who is unconscious."

Kowalczyk noted that his police force's duty is to keep the peace and protect the community — not to sit back as bystanders while fellow officers are assaulted and watch the city be pillaged by looters and go up in flames.

Baltimore riots"This is not okay," Kowalczyk insisted. "You're going to see tear gas. You're going to see pepper balls. We're going to use appropriate methods to ensure that we're able to preserve the safety of that community."

Despite numerous serious injuries sustained by law enforcement officers, none of the rioters were reported to have been hurt in the confrontation.

Stand up

During Gray's funeral, Rev. Jamal Bryant's eulogy for the 25-year-old addressed how young, black men in the community have been pigeonholed into a specific category.

"[Gray and other like him have been trapped within] the box of thinking all black men are thugs and athletes and rappers," Bryant declared, according to CBN News.

Bryant then exhorted African-Americans attending the funeral to make an effort to change the stereotypes, empower themselves and take action to change the criminal justice system.

"Get your black self up and change this city," Bryant challenged the funeral crowd. "I don't know how you can be black in America and be silent. With everything we've been through, ain't no way in the world you can sit here and be silent in the face of injustice."

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