When Obama was president, he had a very different stance on people who destruct property, loot and riot in the streets under the guise of protest.
In April 2015, Baltimore experienced rioting after the death of Freddie Gray, who succumbed to spinal cord injuries sustained while in police custody. Protesters took to the streets for days to denounce the use of force by the Baltimore Police Department, which quickly turned violent. The destruction culminated on April 27, 2015, with rioting, looting, arson, and injury to at least 20 police officers. Obama addressed the nation the next day on April 28, 2015 during a White House press conference, and he clearly condemned the “criminals and thugs who tore up the place.”
“There’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday. It is counterproductive. When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting. They’re not making a statement. They’re stealing. When they burn down a building, they’re committing arson. And they’re destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities. That rob jobs and opportunity from people in that area. So, it is entirely appropriate that the mayor of Baltimore, who I spoke to yesterday, and the governor, who I spoke to yesterday, work to stop that kind of senseless violence and destruction. That is not a protest. That is not a statement. It’s people, a handful of people taking advantage of a situation for their own purposes and they need to be treated as criminals.”-Obama on April 28, 2015 at a White House Press Conference regarding the Baltimore riots
A few years later, Obama has hypocritically changed his tune once the safety and security of the American people are no longer in his hands, and the nation is in an unprecedented crisis. On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was infamously killed at the hands of the Minneapolis PD. The United States was suddenly engulfed in massive protests, violence, and destruction from looting and rioting, which are still ongoing today.
On July 30, 2020, at the funeral of the prolific civil rights leader John Lewis, Obama gave his most vocal denunciation of his presidential successor yet. While not naming President Trump directly, Obama used his eulogy at John Lewis’s memorialas a platform to blame the Trump administration for sending federal agents to attack “peaceful” demonstrators with tear gas and batons.
“Bull Connor may be gone. But today we witness with our own eyes police officers kneeling on the necks of Black Americans. George Wallace may be gone. But we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators.”–Obama on July 30, 2020 giving a eulogy at the funeral of John Lewis
Despite innumerable video footage showing that the recent riots are anything but peaceful, Obama had the gull to place blame on the government instead of the criminals initiating the calamity. However, in 2015, Obama gave the Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan (R), and the Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D), his full support in utilizing the National Guard to quell the destruction of Baltimore. The Baltimore police and Maryland National Guard used multiple non-lethal methods, including tear gas and tasers, on the citizens of Baltimore to end the uprising. Obama added that he would provide additional support from the federal government if needed.
Another glaring hypocrisy between Obama’s approval of the use of force in Baltimore and his disapproval of force in Portland is the scale of enforcement used. In recent weeks, DHS has deployed around 100 federal agents to solely protect federal buildings in Portland, Oregon during a mission called “Operation Diligent Valor.” The DHS agents are not cracking down on violence and destruction in the majority of the city, just on federal property, particularly the federal courthouse. The rest of the city is being left to crumble in the incompetent hands of their radical local government. In shocking contrast, and with Obama’s full support, Governor Hogan deployed 3,000 Maryland National Guard troops to crush the civil unrest in the entire city of Baltimore during 2015 including residential areas.
Obama approved of the same tactics used today to subdue the “thugs” in Baltimore during his presidency, even though the Baltimore riots of 2015 pale in comparison to those nationwide in 2020. Most heartbreaking, dozens of civilians and police officers have been murdered as a direct result of the continuing momentous upheaval. No protestors or law enforcement officers were killed in the Freddie Gray protests of Baltimore.
Another example of the disproportionate loss between the two events is the financial cost to business owners and taxpayers. The Maryland Insurance Administration states insurance companies had paid $12.9 million in private property claims for the 2015 Baltimore riots. In comparison, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that in Minneapolis alone, insurance experts estimate costs of the damage from the riots to exceed $500 million. These figures do not include the amount of damage to public property, the cost of cleanup efforts, overtime pay for law enforcement and first responders, nor the loss to uninsured private businesses, etc. Experts say that the protests sparked across the country by the death of George Floyd could be the most expensive civil disturbance in US history.
What are your thoughts on Obama’s flip flop of opinion regarding looters, rioters, and the necessary means to stop them? How do you feel about Obama’s practice of situational ethics, the ethos that moral decisions should follow flexible guidelines rather than absolute rules and be taken on a case by case basis? Comment below and share!