Democrat Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson recently claimed that passage of a budget favored by Republicans could lead to the kind of violence that erupted last month in Baltimore.
“If we’re not careful the have-nots of this country will rise up like the people in Baltimore,” Johnson said during an interview last week on WABE’s “A Closer Look.”
Johnson, who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, disputed the notion that riots are a response to police brutality. Protests over the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died a week after his April 12 arrest, bubbled over into looting and rioting on April 27.
“You can say that it’s…a reaction to police excessive use of force, but actually, what happened in Baltimore stems from deeper economic issues,” Johnson asserted.
“If you would take a ride down the streets of some of the greatly impoverished areas of Baltimore where change has not come, where things are the same as they were 50 years ago and have been allowed to grow worse then you will understand the lack of hope of which those riots were born from.”
WABE host Denis O’Hayer pressed Johnson to clarify his remarks.
“When you say ‘rise up like Baltimore,’ – let’s define that a little bit more,” O’Hayer said. “In terms of the protests or in terms of the violence?”
“No, I’m saying in terms of the violence, and it’s unfortunate,” Johnson replied.
“You’re saying budgets like this can lead to violence?” O’Hayer asked.
“Yes, I am,” said Johnson.
Johnson is best known for expressing concern that the island of Guam would tip over if there were too many people on it.