WASHINGTON — House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer defended Baltimore city officials’ reaction to the riots erupting in the city by asking for more federal tax dollars.
The Daily Caller asked Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, if the city’s leadership had failed, since the West Baltimore area was still being rebuilt from the 1968 riots. Hoyer replied, “We have to invest in making sure that we have proper infrastructure and proper housing so that we have neighborhoods that are safe and that we safe conditions in which to live.”
“But I wouldn’t call it a failure, certainly, of Baltimore,” he added. “But we’re going to have to as a country invest if we’re going to have the kinds of communities we want.”
The riots broke out in Baltimore over the weekend and again on Monday as a reaction to the death of 25-year-old black man Freddie Gray. Gray died from spinal cord injuries he received while in Baltimore City Police custody this month.
Hoyer told reporters that he wants “to make sure that every citizen is treated fairly and equally by law enforcement just as we need to expect every citizen to respect law enforcement.”
“The violence in Baltimore is tragic and unfortunate. Every interview I’ve heard with everybody indicates that this is not protesting. This is behavior that undermines any focus on the real issue here which is to make sure that every citizen is treated correctly,” he said.
Asked if law enforcement is being too restrained in combatting the riot, Hoyer told TheDC that he believes the police have a “very challenging job.”
“On the one hand, they do not want to exacerbate what might turn to violence and be a motivation for that,” he said. “And, clearly, we found in cases where there was non-violence, but there was a big display of force, it was perceived by some and criticized by some as motivation for a response. So they have a very, very tough job.”
Body cameras and training for the police are were two areas where Congress may intervene, Hoyer said, in order to prevent situations like Gray’s death. Hoyer said he spoke to fellow Democratic Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings and Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver about these issues already.