As violence in Baltimore, Maryland, worsens in response to the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, newly confirmed attorney general Loretta Lynch faced the issue head-on before even having a chance to settle into her new role.
Lynch and President Obama met on Monday night to discuss the events unfolding in Baltimore. While the White House said that the meeting was not called specifically to address the riots, Lynch did brief Obama and informed him that she would be monitoring the situation. In a statement, Lynch expressed her opposition to the riots and called for a more peaceful, nonviolent response to Gray’s death.
“I condemn the senseless acts of violence by some individuals in Baltimore that have resulted in harm to law enforcement officers, destruction of property and a shattering of the peace in the city of Baltimore,” Lynch’s statement read. “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.”
Lynch’s response to the riots falls in line with statements she made during her confirmation hearing regarding her intention to strengthen ties between police officers and their communities, calling that effort one of her “key priorities.”
“As our investigative process continues, I strongly urge every member of the Baltimore community to adhere to the principles of nonviolence,” Lynch’s Baltimore statement continued. “In the days ahead, I intend to work with leaders throughout Baltimore to ensure that we can protect the security and civil rights of all residents. And 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."
According to reports, White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett spoke with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday regarding the unfolding events in Baltimore. Hogan spoke out against the violence on Monday at a press conference, and later cancelled public events planned for Tuesday in order to be attentive towards the situation at hand. In an earlier statement, Hogan condemned the riots, saying “looting and acts of violence in Baltimore will not be tolerated.”
“Look, people have the right to protest and express their frustration,” Hogan said during the press conference. “But Baltimore city families deserve peace and safety in their community, and these acts of violence and destruction of property cannot and will not be tolerated."
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