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Declared and potential presidential candidates from both sides of the aisle are calling for an end to the violence in Baltimore, while acknowledging serious questions remain about how Freddie Gray died in police custody.
Two potential candidates, former Maryland governor and Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley and former Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson, have strong ties to the city. O’Malley cut short an overseas trip after riots erupted on Monday.
“Governor O'Malley has arrived in Baltimore to be with the people in the city that he loves. Since last night, he has been reaching out to community leaders, the Mayor, and members of the clergy to offer his assistance where appropriate and needed," spokeswoman Lis Smith said Tuesday. He will remain in the city to promote volunteer opportunities in the coming days.
Carson released a statement urging parents to “take control of your children and do not allow them to be exposed to the dangers of uncontrolled agitators on the streets.” But he also dismissed the notion of protesting an “unpleasant experience” in an interview with GQ.
“If you have an unpleasant experience with a plumber, do you go out and declare a war on all plumbers? Or teachers or doctors? Of course not. And it makes no sense to do that with police either,” Carson said.
A funeral was held on Monday for Gray, 25, who died of a severe spinal cord injury he received after being detained by police. Around 200 people were arrested, 144 cars set ablaze and 15 buildings were destroyed in the riots that followed Gray’s service.
"Every case deserves justice, and the facts surrounding Freddie Gray's death should be thoroughly and impartially investigated. But rioting and mayhem are not the answer,” GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz said in a statement.
New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie, also mulling a potential presidential run, announced he would send 150 New Jersey State Police personnel south to Maryland to “help ensure a peaceful resolution for the city and people of Baltimore.”
Most of the 2016 candidates, however, have remained silent or have kept statements short in reaction to the violence. It underscores the difficulty that comes with speaking about uncondoned violence while remaining sensitive to a community that feels underrepresented.
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton simply tweeted: “Tonight I am praying for peace & safety for all in Baltimore, & for Freddie Gray's family - his death is a tragedy that demands answers.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker tweeted his prayers for the “restoration of peace.”
President Barack Obama, however, did not mince words in condemning the violence.
"They're not protesting. They're not making a statement. They're stealing," Obama said during a news conference on Tuesday. "It's a handful of people taking advantage of the situation."
-- Andrew Rafferty