“This is not martial law,” Gen. Linda Singh, the commander of the Maryland National Guard, told cameras Monday night during the announcement of a week-long curfew and the arrival of 5,000 national guard troops. The forces she commands will take directions and orders from the police “in a support role.” The police are ostensibly taking orders from the mayor and the governor.
GENERAL LINDA SINGH, NATIONAL GUARD: I would highly recommend that we all take cover for the night and actually go to sleep. Get some rest and let things settle down so we can restore order to the city. We are going to be out in massive force, and that just basically means that we are going to be patrolling the streets in order to ensure that we are protecting property.
We are in a supporting mode, so if there are any questions about martial law, this is not martial law. Martial law means that at that point the military fully takes over, so we have not reached that point. I repeat not reached that point. We are in support of the police department, and are taking our direction from the police department as to where we are going to go out to support them.
An analysis of social media traffic in downtown Baltimore Monday has unearthed striking connections to the protests in Ferguson, Mo. last year, according to a leading data mining firm that shared its findings exclusively with Fox News.
The firm, which asked to remain anonymous because of its government work, found between 20 and 50 social media accounts in Baltimore that were also tied to the peak period of violence in Ferguson. While further analysis is being conducted on the data, it suggests the presence of “professional protesters” or anarchists taking advantage of Freddie Gray’s death to incite more violence.
Gray, 25, died April 18, a week after being injured while in police custody. A wave of violence erupted in Baltimore following his funeral Monday.
One account, which also tracked the recent union protests in New York City as well as other disturbances, tweeted photos of Gray’s funeral and used language that seemed to anticipate violence in Baltimore.
The discovery that some social media accounts were tied to cities 825 miles apart was described to Fox News as “surprising.” While it is possible to spoof accounts and make it appear as if someone is in one location when they are really in another, the data mining firm told Fox News that it can’t fully explain the numbers.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who gave rioters “space to destroy” property and reportedly told police to stand down, was a key player in the Justice Dept.’s plan to expand federal control over local law enforcement.
Rawlings-Blake was one of three mayors who provided broad input into President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which advocates the federalization of police departments across the country by forcing them to adhere to stricter federal requirements when they receive funding.
“The federal government can be a strong partner in our efforts in build better relationships between the police and community,” she said in written testimony before the task force.
That would explain her inaction to stop the rioting when it began: by allowing it to spiral out of control, the mayor and her friends at the Justice Dept. could use the unrest to justify the expansion of federal power into local law enforcement, which would also allow her to receive more funding.
President Obama said the Task Force on 21st Century Policing is “directed at the 18,000 law enforcement jurisdictions that are out there.”
“I’m going to be asking Eric Holder and the Justice Department and his successor to go through all these recommendations so that we can start implementing them,” he said. “I know that one area that’s going to be of great interest is whether we can expand the COPS program that in the past has been very effective, continues to be effective, but is largely underfunded – to see if we can get more incentives for local communities to apply some of the best practices and lessons that are embodied in this report.”
And Rawlings-Blake was more than willing to apply these “best practices” in exchange for federal funding.
“Our police commanders are constantly seeking additional dollars, both to develop best practices and to then teach those practices to our officers and our developing leaders,” she also said. “If there is any place where the federal government and U.S. Department of Justice could produce a tangible impact on our officers and our efforts, it would be to provide more resources in this area.”
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake waited for around 5 hours to even make a statement as businesses burned and gangs of violent mobs ran riot, prompting Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to imply that the Mayor had waited too long to call out the National Guard, telling a reporter he was “glad that she finally did” make the decision.
During the press conference attended by Rawlings-Blake and other officials, hostility appeared to be targeted more at the media than the rioters, with accusations flying that the press refused to focus on “peaceful” demonstrators.
National Guard troops arrived in Baltimore shortly after midnight Monday to help local police forces with the chaos.
Rioting, looting and widespread damage flooded the streets following the funeral of a 25-year-old man who died while in police custody.
Many of the Guardsmen are trained for a situation just like the one in Maryland.
It’s called “civil unrest training,” and it was recently completed in Tennessee with a local police department.
Troops have also trained in Maryland and Colorado.
“It really helped put it into perspective the person we are going to be up against – the rioter, the unruly person,” said one National Guard official.
The training includes gas mask training and practice with shields and batons.
“If we have to use it in the outside world… we are ready for any task possible,” said another National Guard official.
Troops plan to remain in Baltimore to help until order in the city returns, or until Maryland is no longer under a “state of emergency.”
In early April, troops with the 134th Air Refueling Wing of the Tennessee Air National guard trained to combat riot situations with the Knoxville, Tennessee police department.
If you remember the National Guard was called in Ferguson Missouri.
This follows multiple reports over the past weeks outlining similar training and domestic operations. Are these routine in nature? Or, are they precursors to what’s ahead ?