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Obama Plans to Visit Baltimore After Violence Has Calmed Down

Wednesday, 29 Apr 2015 09:01 AM

President Barack Obama said he plans to visit Baltimore once the unrest in the city has calmed down to address underlying tensions after a black man was fatally injured while in police custody.

“Once things have cleared up, I think there’s going be a time when I go back to Baltimore City,” Obama said in a radio interview that aired Wednesday on “The Steve Harvey Morning Show.”

Obama has dispatched several senior administration officials to Baltimore, where the mayor imposed a curfew and called for thousands of National Guard troops to respond to riots that left buildings gutted and cars burned across the city. The violence and looting abated overnight as crowds were dispersed shortly after the 10 p.m. curfew.

It’s the most recent police-involved death that has drawn Obama’s attention. Protests and unrest spread nationally from cities like Ferguson, Missouri, and New York, where unarmed black men died following police confrontations.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen these police-related killings or deaths too often now,” Obama said. “Everybody is starting to recognize that this is not just an isolated incident in Ferguson or New York, but we’ve got some broader issues.”

The president, who has been criticized for not visiting the sites of other protests, said he has stayed away in order to “let law enforcement or emergency responders do their work.”

40 Miles

Obama said the tensions that exist in Baltimore -- which is less than 40 miles (64 kilometers) from Washington -- reminded him of Chicago, where he had worked as a community organizer. The lack of jobs, high incarceration rates, prevalence of single-parent households and poor educational opportunities have created a situation that can breed unrest and violence, he said.

Unrest in Baltimore subsided Tuesday as National Guard troops and police flooded the streets to enforce a curfew intended to prevent a second night of looting and violence.

“The curfew is, in fact, working,” Baltimore police Commissioner Anthony Batts said at a news conference. “Citizens are safe. The city is stable. We hope to maintain it that way.”

It followed a day in which at least 20 officers were injured and 235 people were arrested in violence that erupted following the funeral of Freddie Gray, 25, who died on April 19 after suffering spinal-cord injuries while in police custody.

Bad Actors

Attorney General Loretta Lynch talked Tuesday night with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and members of the state’s congressional delegation, according to the Justice Department. Lynch directed Vanita Gupta, the head of the civil rights division, and Ron Davis, director of the Community Oriented Policing Services office, to meet with community leaders, Gray’s family and the families of police officers seriously injured in the violence, according to the department.

In the radio interview, Obama encouraged police departments to root out bad actors rather than close ranks, and address the tensions that exist in poor and minority communities. He also said the broader community should engage on the issue, rather than leaving police to deal with a slew of societal problems.

“This is something that’s obviously important to me,” Obama said. “The communities in Baltimore that are having these problems now are no different from the communities in Chicago where I first started working, when I moved there as a community organizer. I’ve seen this movie too many times before.”


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President Barack Obama said he plans to visit Baltimore once the unrest in the city has calmed down to address underlying tensions after a black man was fatally injured while in police custody."Once things have cleared up, I think there's going be a time when I go back to...
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2015-01-29
Wednesday, 29 Apr 2015 09:01 AM
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