Maryland Gov: You shouldn't compare George Floyd with Freddie Gray

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is getting annoyed with the number of people (like yours truly) who have been drawing comparisons between the current wave of riots and arson following the death of George Floyd and the implosion of Baltimore in 2015 after Freddie Gray died in police custody. During an interview on Friday, Hogan appeared to bristle at the suggestion that the situations were comparable, offering some contrasts between the two cases. But aside from the dates and the locations involved, it’s tough to make much of an argument in favor of Hogan’s position. (CBS Baltimore)

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis drew comparisons to the 2015 death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, but Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he doesn’t believe it’s a fair comparison.

“I don’t think it’s a fair comparison,” Hogan said on TODAY. “The evidence here seems overwhelming and clear to me and you have a video of exactly what happened. However, the situation on the ground is reminiscent somewhat of the actions that took place afterwards.”

Hogan said he’d only been governor for 90 days when the worst violence in 47 years broke out in Baltimore.

Hogan went on to say that he had called Minnesota Governor Tim Walz on Friday morning to offer him some advice based on Baltimore’s experiences during the 2015 Freddie Gray riots. In short, he told Walz that he needed to act quickly and be decisive to get the rioting under control. He then went on to provide a rather questionable timeline of events from Maryland after the 2015 riots started, talking about how he sent in the National Guard and spent a week there in person trying to “lower the temperature.”

I described his timeline of events as questionable because Hogan then went on to tell the reporter, “after the first day we had no violence whatsoever.” I’m not sure if Larry Hogan’s memory is just beginning to fail or if the details have become blurry for him after half of a decade, but that’s simply not accurate. I was covering that story on a daily basis as it unfolded and the Freddie Gray unrest was not a single day event.

The violence started to kick off on April 23rd, with CNN reporting fights breaking out between police and protesters, with significant numbers of arrests. The chaos really started to boil over on April 25th, when the New York Times described “scenes of chaos” in the streets of Baltimore as windows were broken and stores were looted. By the 28th, the serious fires and widespread looting had taken hold. Even at the end of the month, the Orioles were forced to play a game in front of an empty stadium because it still wasn’t safe to be out in the streets. So I’m sorry to quibble, Governor Hogan, but that was not a one-day event.

I will agree with the Governor that there are at least some dissimilarities between the deaths of the two men in question. He’s correct in saying that there’s much better video evidence in the case of George Floyd. When Freddie Gray died, all we had to go on was the testimony of the officers involved for the most part. Also, assuming the video presents an accurate representation of what happened, there was a seriously blatant amount of damage being inflicted on Floyd at the hands (or knee, actually) of the police officer. In the case of Freddie Gray, there was definitely negligence in how he was transported in the police van, but multiple court cases and lawsuits concluded that Gray’s injuries came about through negligence, not direct action.

The only difference between the response from the public is in scope. There were demonstrations in support of Freddie Gray in many cities, but for the most part, the extreme violence, arson and looting were restricted to Baltimore. This year it’s sweeping through more large cities across America and even in some other countries than I can keep track of. Between the President, the governors and the mayors of these cities, somebody has to find a way to shut this down and they need to do it quickly.

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