TRNN’s Jaisal Noor covers former Baltimore mayor and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s presidential announcement and talks to protestors about why they oppose his candidacy
JAISAL NOOR, PRODUCER, TRNN: Against the backdrop of the city he says will be his campaign resume, former Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor Martin O’Malley announced his candidacy for president on Saturday, May 30. Standing atop federal Hill O’Malley addressed the recent Baltimore riots. MARTIN O’MALLEY, 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The scourge of hopelessness that happened to ignite here that evening transcends race, it transcends geography. The hard truth of our shared reality is this: unemployment in many cities and many small towns across the United States of America is higher now than it was eight years ago. Conditions of extreme poverty breed conditions of extreme violence. NOOR: Even as #blacklivesmatter protesters gathered to say his management of the city helped widen the racial and economic divide that was front and center in a worldwide debate about the ills of Baltimore in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray in police custody last month. PROTESTER: You did nothing for Baltimore. You did not help us. You left us in the rain. Look at us now. TAWANDA JONES, BALTIMORE COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: You know black lives don’t matter when we’re getting brutally murdered but we can’t even come to an event and say–a public space, to say that black lives matter. NOOR: Federal Hill is predominantly affluent and white neighborhood, the type of area that thrived under O’Malley’s watch. But in the west Baltimore neighborhood where Gray died, residents there say O’Malley failed to deliver, and even made things worse. Part of the problem was his aggressive police strategy called zero tolerance that intensified aggressive policing and led to tens of thousands of illegal arrests without addressing the underlying causes of crime and poverty. MEGAN KENNY, PROTESTED ZERO-TOLERANCE AT O’MALLEY EVENT: I want people to start really accepting the fact that there is structural racism, white supremacy at work in our systems–I’m not done. And that zero tolerance policies do not work. Punishment does not work. NOOR: While the homicide rate dropped initially after zero tolerance, murders began to climb by the middle of the decade and did not drop again until the policy was abandoned by his predecessor Sheila Dixon. Meanwhile, the strategy was the subject of a successful lawsuit by the NAACP and the ACLU. Such policies residents say is at the root of a culture of confrontational policing that lead to encounters with police like the one which killed Gray. It’s a legacy that O’Malley says he will embrace, but also comes at a time when tough policing in black communities is not only under fire from residents, it’s coming under increasing national scrutiny. In fact, the Baltimore police department is currently the subject of three separate federal investigations. Sgt. Louis Hopson, the lead plaintiff of a landmark civil rights lawsuit against the city, says O’Malley was initially an advocate for black officers. LOUIS HOPSON, FMR. SGT., BALTIMORE POLICE DEPT: Now Martin stood up, and he had hearings for us. I didn’t expect anything more. He said one time, Hop, this wasn’t my fight. He said, the civil rights discrimination issue, that’s really not my fight. NOOR: But O’Malley later distanced himself from the struggle to rid the beleaguered department of racism. HOPSON: And it’s not what you do out in public and the words that you say. It’s what you do after you’ve been told or after you see the truth. So Martin has to go back and look at the books, like the red books, the investigation which he himself conducted. And he has to ask himself and he has to explain to the public, well, once I knew about this, what did I do? NOOR: Still, the Democrat hovering around one percent in polls appeared optimistic. O’MALLEY: It is the thread of generosity, compassion, and love that brings us together as one American people. NOOR: With Stephen Janis, this is Jaisal Noor in Baltimore.
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