Maryland Governor Says Obama Urged Him to Exercise 'Due Restraint'

Susan Jones | April 28, 2015 | 7:28am EDT
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( - Both the mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland said they spoke to President Obama on Monday, but the president had nothing to say publicly about the out-of-control looting, burning and police-pelting in Baltimore, a city just 40 miles north of the U.S. capital. He's letting his new attorney general handle it.

"I had a long discussion with the president about this, this evening," Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) told reporters at a Monday night news conference. Hogan announced that he had just activated the National Guard, at the Baltimore mayor's request -- a request that  came many hours after the looting and fires began.

"He thanked me for the action," Hogan said of the president. "Said he thought we we're doing the right thing. He said I assume that you and your team will be exercising due restraint, I assured them that we were.

"The last thing we want to do is escalate the violence, but I also assure them that weren't going to standby and allow our City of Baltimore to be taken over by thugs," Hogan said.

"And he said that the Justice Department was going to be -- the new attorney general will be coming into the Baltimore -- that we're going to sit down and work together to try to see if we can bring calm to the community and find answers in the case of Freddie Gray. But that was a separate situation, that he felt we absolutely knew to get control of our streets and he endorsed the action that we're taken tonight."

According to Hogan, President Obama "supports our actions 100 percent. We talked about the fact that we got to find -- everybody believes we need to get to the answers and resolve this situation, the concern everybody has about what exactly happened in the Freddie Gray incident.

"That's one whole situation. This is an entirely different situation. This is lawless gangs of thugs roaming the streets causing damage to property and injuring innocent people, and we're not going to tolerate that."

Gray is the 25-year-old Baltimore man whose spine was severed under mysterious circumstances while Gray was in Baltimore police custody. He later died, and the rioting in Baltimore erupted full-force immediately after Gray's funeral on Monday.

Hogan said he doesn't know when the attorney general will be coming to Baltimore.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake, criticized by some for her slow response to the rioting, said it's a "very delicate balancing act to make sure you protect people's right to free speech, their right to protest." She said she didn't want to "escalate" the situation by using "too much force."

The White House said President Obama spoke with Rawlings-Blake on Monday.

According to a readout of the phone call issued by the White House, "The Mayor updated the President on efforts to address the demonstrations and maintain peace throughout the city. The President highlighted the Administration’s commitment to provide assistance as needed and will continue to receive updates on the situation from Attorney General Lynch and White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett. Jarrett also spoke with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan today.”

In her first day on the job, Loretta Lynch issued her first statement as attorney general, condemning "the senseless acts of violence by some individuals in Baltimore that have resulted in harm to law enforcement officers, destruction of property and the shattering of the peace in the city of Baltimore.

"Those who commit violent actions, ostensibly in protest of the death of Freddie Gray do a disservice to his family, to his loved ones and to legitimate peaceful protesters who are working to improve their community for all its residents. I will bring the full resources of the Department of Justice to bear in protecting those under threat, investigating wrongdoing and securing an end to violence," Lynch said.

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