O’Malley Defends Baltimore Record: ‘None of this Is Easy’

‘We’ve saved over a thousand lives in Baltimore in the last 15 years of people working together and the vast majority of them were young and poor and black, it wasn’t easy on any day’

COOPER: “The concern of voters about you is that you tout our record as Baltimore’s mayor. As we all know, we all saw it. That city exploded in riots and violence in April. The current top prosecutor in Baltimore, also a Democrat, blames your zero tolerance policies for sowing the seeds of unrest. Why should Americans trust you with the country when they see what’s going on in the city that you ran for more than seven years?” 
O’MALLEY: “Yes, actually, I believe what she said was that there’s a lot of policies that have led to this unrest. But, Anderson, when I ran for mayor of Baltimore in 1999 —“
COOPER: “She actually — just for the record, when she was asked which policies, to name two, she said zero tolerance. I mean, there’s a number of old policies that we’re seeing the results of. That distress of communities, where communities don’t want to step forward and say who killed a 3-year-old, it’s a direct result of these failed policies.”
O’MALLEY: “Well, let’s talk about this a little bit. One of the things that was not reported during that heartbreaking night of unrest in Baltimore was that arrests had actually fallen to a 38-year low in the year prior to the Freddie Gray’s tragic death. Anderson, when I ran for mayor of Baltimore back in 1999, it was not because our city was doing well. It was because we allowed ourselves to become the most violent, addicted, and abandoned city in America. And I ran and promised people that together we could turn that around. And we put our city on a path to reduce violent crime, or part one crime by more than any other major city in America over the next 10 years. I did not make our city immune to setbacks. But I attended a lot of funerals, including one for a family of seven who were firebombed in their sleep for picking up the phone in a poor African-American neighborhood and calling the police because of drug dealers on their corner. We’ve saved over a thousand lives in Baltimore in the last 15 years of people working together. And the vast majority of them were young and poor and black. It wasn’t easy on any day. But we saved lives and we gave our city a better future, improving police and community relations every single day that I was in office.”
COOPER: “In one year alone, though, 100,000 arrests were made in your city, a city of 640,000 people. The ACLU, the NAACP sued you, sued the city, and the city actually settled, saying a lot of those arrests were without probable cause.”
O’MALLEY: “Well, I think the key word in your followup there was the word ‘settled.’ That’s true. It was settled. Arrests peaked in 2003, Anderson, but they declined every year after that as we restored peace in our poorer neighborhoods so that people could actually walk and not have to worry about their kids or their loved ones of being victims of violent crime. Look, none of this is easy. None of us has all the answers. But together as a city, we saved a lot of lives. It was about leadership. It was about principle. And it was about bringing people together.”
COOPER: “Thank you, Governor.”
O’MALLEY: “Thank you.”

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