2016 Presidential Contenders React to Unrest in Baltimore

Demonstrators climb on a destroyed Baltimore Police car in the street during violent protests following the funeral of Freddie Gray, April 27, 2015 in Baltimore.  (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Demonstrators climb on a destroyed Baltimore Police car in the street during violent protests following the funeral of Freddie Gray, April 27, 2015 in Baltimore. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The unrest in Baltimore has sparked reaction from 2016 presidential candidates and likely contenders.

Riots and looting broke out in Baltimore on Monday following memorial services for Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man who died earlier this month while in police custody.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted last night, expressing hopes for peace and justice. “Tonight I am praying for peace & safety for all in Baltimore, & for Freddie Gray’s family — his death is a tragedy that demands answers,” she wrote.

Martin O’Malley, a former mayor of Baltimore and a likely Democratic challenger to Clinton, cut short a trip to Ireland to return to Baltimore amid the unrest.

“I’m saddened that the city I love is in such pain this night,” the former Maryland governor said in a statement Monday night. “All of us share a profound feeling of grief for Freddie Gray and his family. We must come together as one city to transform this moment of loss and pain into a safer and more just future for all of Baltimore’s people.”

Upon his return to Baltimore, O’Malley spokesperson Lis Smith said “he has been reaching out to community leaders, the mayor, and members of the clergy to offer his assistance where appropriate and needed.”

Rand Paul weighed in on the situation in an interview with conservative radio host Laura Ingrahamtoday, saying the situation is symptomatic of crumbling moral code in American society that includes a “breakdown of the family structure” and “lack of fathers.”

“I came through the train on Baltimore last night; I’m glad the train didn’t stop,” the Republican presidential candidate and Kentucky senator told Ingraham.

Paul said “some justice has to come” from Gray’s death but said he believes the situation “isn’t just a racial thing” and expressed his support for the Baltimore Police Department in responding to the unrest.

Ted Cruz issued a statement condemning the destruction in Baltimore, while also calling for justice for Freddie Gray.

“Every case deserves justice, and the facts surrounding Freddie Gray’s death should be thoroughly and impartially investigated. But rioting and mayhem are not the answer,” the Republican presidential candidate and Texas senator said.

“Likewise, the small number of those who have wreaked destruction upon Baltimore over the past few days are not emblematic of the thousands of honest, hard-working families who are proud to call the city home,” Cruz continued in the statement.

Ben Carson, an expected Republican candidate and retired neurosurgeon from Baltimore, condemned the destruction of businesses as senseless and defended the Baltimore Police Department.

“We need to get to the bottom of any problems of discrimination, but the larger issue here is, how do you react when something is wrong?” Carson, an African-American, said in an interview with GQ. “If you have an unpleasant experience with a plumber, do you go out and declare a war on all plumbers?”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, also an expected Republican presidential candidate, took to Twitter to express his solidarity with Maryland and relay the details of his state’s efforts to provide support, which include sending New Jersey State Police to back up Maryland’s policing efforts.

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