Freddie Gray

No, 'Outside Agitators' Were Not Responsible for Saturday's Violence in Baltimore

Contrary to the authorities' claims


Sha da do wop, da shaman do way. We like Birdland.

When some violence and vandalism broke out at Baltimore's protest against police brutality Saturday, the local authorities laid the blame on "isolated pockets of people from out of town." Two claims were built into that phrase. The first is that the protest was mostly peaceful, with only "pockets" of disorder. The second is that the disorder was imported from someplace outside Baltimore.

The first assertion is true. The second is not.

As far as the first claim goes, hundreds of people—by some tellings more than 2,000—marched Saturday afternoon without serious incident. By all accounts, the number involved with the confrontations that evening was far smaller. Many of the other demonstrators tried to rein in the rowdies. (One memorable moment in Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's press conference Saturday night came when she thanked the Nation of Islam for its help keeping the peace.) Some of the phrases floating around social media that evening—"Baltimore in flames" and so forth—may have suggested a citywide inferno, but the clashes were localized, flaring up at a few spots downtown and, later, in part of West Baltimore. There was definite damage, including some looting. But as rioting goes, this wasn't on the scale of, say, L.A. in 1992 or the urban uprisings of the '60s. The nonviolent marchers outnumbered the hotheads.

But the second claim? I should note that a lot of the police do not live in town, a longstanding bone of contention for local activists. As far as the protesters involved in the clashes go, though, Baltimore Brew reported last night that the city had

released the names of 35 people arrested in connection with the unrest.

Nearly all of them are from Baltimore City. Thirty-one were adults, mostly males in their late 20s and early 30s but ranging up to age 47. Four were juveniles.

Six police officers suffered minor injuries.

In a statement to the media, police acknowledge that "the vast majority of arrests reflect local residency," but added, without elaboration, that "the Baltimore Police Department believes that outside agitators continue to be the instigators behind acts of violence and destruction."

Those wily Outside Agitators! Always instigating trouble, then fading away like ghosts when the cops come. How do they do it?

There were, of course, protesters in Baltimore on Saturday who do not live in the city. Police violence of the kind that killed Freddie Gray is not limited to one town, and a national movement against it has emerged; it's no surprise that activists from elsewhere have come to Maryland for the marches. There may well be some overlap between the outsiders and the people pushing for a more confrontational approach. But there is no reason to believe the activists adopting militant tactics are being led from afar.

Authorities facing unrest at home have a long history of blaming conspiracies of outsiders for their troubles. In this case, as in so many cases before, they're wrong. Baltimore has plenty of homegrown radicals, and Baltimore police have done plenty of things to radicalize people. The radicals in turn have plenty of disagreements among themselves about which tactics are appropropriate and which are wrong.

And the looters? In the words of one local activist, Flint Arthur: "People don't travel to different cities to steal snacks from a 7-11. That's not how petty crime works."

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  1. Jesse, how could you write this without reference to the mayor’s statement: “We also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well”?

    1. If I write another post later about the policing decisions, that’ll definitely get a mention.

      1. I hope you took that portion of her statement as she intended. To be clear, she issued another statement:

        “What she is saying within this statement was that there was an effort to give the peaceful demonstrators room to conduct their peaceful protests on Saturday. Unfortunately, as a result of providing the peaceful demonstrators with the space to share their message, that also meant that those seeking to incite violence also had the space to operate. The police sought to balance the rights of the peaceful demonstrators against the need to step in against those who were seeking to create violence.”

        I live in Baltimore City, and I applaud her decision to create space for these demonstrations, regardless of how a few people chose to abuse it. I hope she continues her brave stance for respect of freedom, but I doubt it.

    2. I like it when the press calls thieves, vandals, and thugs “packs of teens” because telling the truth will not be tolerated.

      That’s what they call the every weekend violence in Philly and every other big city

      Not only are the press terrible at their jobs, they are cowards.

      1. I don’t think packs of teens and thieves, vandals and thugs are mutually exclusive concepts. Though it does sound like it wasn’t all teens.

        1. Its on right now in Baltimore. Full on riots live streamed on Zero Hedge.

  2. Even if they were, so what? How about the Baltimore cops stop murdering people so the agitators don’t have anything to agitate about?

    1. Or how about no one murders anyone. Then we won’t need cops

      1. This makes no sense unless I read it as you excluding “cop” as a separate category from “murderer”, and then it still makes no sense, because po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

        If we eliminated allergies there wouldn’t be all this pollen everywhere, amirite?

      2. Excellent point. Baltimore should pass a law prohibiting murders. If that fails, maybe they could pass a law outlawing the things people use to commit murders, like handguns. Boom, problem solved.

      3. Then who’s going to stop people from taking drugs?


      4. We’ll get right on that, right after we teach men not to rape. /sarc

  3. OT — “999 Timewaster Called an Ambulance to Help Hit and Run Squirrel”?headline, Daily Telegraph (London), April 25, 2015…..irrel.html

    1. From the link:

      “The time-wasting call was just one of a series made to the trust this year which it is highlighting to urge the public to use 999 wisely to support its Right Call campaign.”

      Let’s see, we’ll give this service away free and no one will abuse that privilege, ’cause New Soviet Man!

      1. “We would strongly urge people who think it is funny to make a prank call to stop and think about the potential consequences.”

        Mmmm… irony.

      2. It should cost money to call the police? I guess in Anarchotopia that’s how it works.

        1. Maybe something more like the new baseball challenge rules. You get unlimited challenges unless your challenge is not sustained. Set a limit of two unsustained challenges.

    2. Maybe s/he didn’t have a claw hammer handy to finish the job.

    3. “Well, it’s by the pound, so about… 80 cents.”

      1. Life imitates art…

    4. I just posted it because it referenced an HyR squirrel.

  4. “One memorable moment in Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s press conference Saturday night came when she thanked the Nation of Islam for its help keeping the peace.”

    You know, when the NSA and CIA have lost the mayor of Baltimore……………..

    1. That is like Mick Jagger thanking the Hells Angels after Altemont.

      1. It’s just a kiss away.

      2. Why, did the Nation of Islam beat up a bunch of people this weekend? Or participate in looting?

    2. …it’s time to install a new one?

  5. “Outside agitators” is a convenient way for politicians to express their disapproval of the destruction but not pin it on their own constituents. I’m shocked, shocked that they would involve deception in their political calculus.

    1. I was going to say that, “it reminds me of the civil rights arguments in favor of the status quo in the 60s” but, actually, it doesn’t “remind” me so much as sounds like a verbatim transcript.

      1. Yeah, to the Jim Crow officials, not only were civil-rights groups outsiders, but when a segregationist committed a crime, that was outsiders, too.

    2. These are probably the same outside agitators as the ones responsible for all the violence in Venezuela.


  7. So, let’s recap all this, shall we? The Baltimore police force has a habit of brutalizing people, particularly black people. In this particular instance their brutalization ends in a man’s death for what looks like no apparent reason, or at least a nominal reason, at best. The mayor responds to the resulting civil disorder by, essentially, approving of at least some level of violence and property destruction.

    Does anyone else see this not turning out well?

    1. They’ll start creating wonton destruction zones, separate from the free-speech zones, where the rabble can vent their frustrations.

      These zones will always be located in black neighborhoods, far away from the media vans.

      1. Let’s just make Delaware the nation’s rumpus room.

        1. Hey now.

      2. cool. i hope they get their own special signs like the “Drug Free School Zone”.

      3. Why would they destroy wontons? Is there some Chinese angle I’m missing?

      4. “wonton destruction zones”

        My mouth is a Wonton Soup destruction zone. Yum!

      5. no, she’ll let them burn down the Korean groceries

      6. They’ll start creating wonton destruction zones”

        As opposed to the ” egg drop ” or “hot and spicy ” destruction zones they have now ?

    2. Blacks living in poor areas seem to get into more trouble than anyone else. I’m sure it’s mostly due to the fact that, in the case of Baltimore, there are huge swaths of the city that are nearly 100% black and 100% poor.

      But the thing that makes it so crazy to make this about race is that most of the cops in Baltimore are also black, and they don’t seem to have any issue with beating up on their bros. And I’m sure, they won’t have any more of a problem beating up on whitey when they get the opportunity.

      This is all about police brutality, not race. The politicians who are making this about race are doing a great disservice to the people as a whole.

      And the looters? Throw their fucking asses in jail, they deserve it.

  8. So were the Jews and Gypsies responsible or not?

    1. Uh, we use “Roma” here.

      1. That’s a type of tomato, asshole.

        1. You would eat those cheap Roma tomatoes, peon.

          Some of us can afford the extra $2.00/lb for real tomatoes.

          1. I don’t eat that garbage fruit anyway. I eat meat.

            1. fruit or veggie? anyway, mix it in with the meat

          2. I like roma tomatoes. They’re compact, sturdy, and slice easily.

            1. I grow them to make Pasta Con Pomodoro E Basilico. Nothing like using home grown tomatos, basil & garlic. Yum!

        2. No, it’s a soccer team from Italy, asshole.

    2. Only when Sheldon writes the article.

  9. There are people that go from protest to protest, trying to whip up hatred and violence, because the more violence and mayhem, the more it serves their political agenda.

    If you don’t like the term “outside activists”, do you like “revolutionary vanguard” better? How about “community activist”? Is that one soft an squishy enough for you?

    1. Here now. I know the FBI has it’s troubles, but there’s no call to be so harsh. I’m sure they’re fine men just trying to do a good job.

    2. Sounds like, at least from the arrests made, Baltimorons didn’t need much encouragement.

      1. “Baltimore Strong!”

    3. I don’t think the people looting are any kind of activists, inside, outside or revolutionary vanguard. They are opportunists who see a chance to break stuff and steal stuff and get away with it.

      I’m not sure whose agenda is served by that. Except maybe racists and law and order conservatives.

  10. I thought Baltimore wants all the tourists it can get.

    1. Baltimore wants all the tourists it can get of the resident’s money that it can get, so that it can continue to NOT fix the giant holes in the streets.


    2. They need fresh meat for the muggers

  11. When politicians stop taking outsider money for their campaigns, then they can rightfully complain about outside agitators.

  12. Of course they were from out of town. To say otherwise would imply that the people policed by the department are upset. As Dunphy has pointed out on numerous occasions, the people OVERWHELMINGLY support the cops, and most cops actually believe this. That means it’s just plain impossible for these violent protestors to have been anything but people from out of town. After all, cops feel that they are OVERWHELMINGLY supported. Therefore they are. Duh.

    1. It’s true: the people OVERWHELMINGLY support the cops.

      1. I lol’d.

  13. Well, West Baltimore IS out of town as far as most of us are concerned, sine it’s a place that most of us will never go to.

    So, yeah, those out of towners from West Baltimore…

    1. sine it’s a place that most of us will never go to

      We can always wave, right?

      1. Wave away, just don’t stop at any of the stoplights or stop signs, and get the fuck out of there as fast as you can.

        1. What exactly is considered West Baltimore? Are we talking North Avenue?

          1. If you want to see some of the worst of it, consider it an adventure, just head out of Balmer going west on 40, cross Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, and make a right anywhere.

            1. Can’t be any worse than some of the neighborhoods I dealt with growing up in the rust belt. I would be afraid today to visit the street where I went to elementary school in the 70s.

              1. You might be surprised.

      2. I see what you did there even if Hyp did not.

        1. I though about going off on a tangent.

          1. Gaze, narrowing.

          2. I would like to co sign what Rhywun said.

    2. West Baltimore travel guide, for you out of towners…

      1. Does that come with an armor plated vehicle with machine gun on top?

  14. If I were running the Nation of Islam, I’d sue for defamation. It sure can’t help their street cred to have the mayor lauding their civility.

    1. Pay them in bean pies.

  15. Baltimore, eh? If only there were a pithy observer from Baltimore to whom we could look for sage advice.

    “It would surprise no impartial observer if the motto “In God we trust” were one day expunged from the coins of the republic by the Junkers at Washington, and the far more appropriate word, “verboten,” substituted. Nor would it astound any save the most romantic if, at the same time, the goddess of liberty were taken off the silver dollars to make room for a bas-relief of a policeman in a spiked helmet.”

    H. L. Mencken

    1. I guess we didn’t trust in God until the late 19th century, because that’s when the motto arrived.

      1. But we did get presidents on our dollar coins, which is pretty close.

        I say lose “in God we trust” and put Liberty back on coins.

  16. Isn’t “outside agitators” what racist politicians and police used to call the people who came to help register blacks to vote in places that systematically suppressed the black vote?

  17. It’s all Al Sharpton’s Fault!
    *goes off to read all the posts*

  18. It has been reported that organizers from outside of Baltimore were present when the
    violence started (or at least were there before it started).
    To deny the possibility that organized outside agitation played a role in the lawlessness is a biased opinion at best, irresponsible reporting at worst.
    Police department heads would be derelict in their duty not to investigate the possibility.

  19. Start working from home! Great job for students, stay-at-home moms or anyone needing an extra income… You only need a computer and a reliable internet connection… Make $90 hourly and up to $12000 a month by following link at the bottom and signing up… You can have your first check by the end of this week…………

  20. The “out of towners” that are needed are the National Guard.
    When will that Radical Republican Governor restore order?

  21. No one respects an unaccountable government.

  22. Mr. McCleery: You aren’t one of those agitators, are you?
    Benjamin: What?
    Mr. McCleery: I hate ’em. I won’t stand for it.

  23. uptil I looked at the paycheck which was of $6898 , I have faith …that…my father in law was actually erning money parttime from their computer. . there neighbor had bean doing this for less than nine months and at present cleard the loans on there apartment and got a great new Nissan GT-R:…… ??????

  24. my roomate’s half-sister makes $71 /hr on the computer . She has been laid off for 5 months but last month her pay was $17321 just working on the computer for a few hours
    …… ??????

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