A senior law enforcement source has confirmed to Fox News that Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake gave direct orders to the police chief Monday night to stand down while rioters destroyed property and threw objects at officers.
When Fox News asked the source directly if Rawlings-Blake had ordered the police to stand by as rioters went on a rampage, the senior law enforcement source said, "You are God damn right it was."
In an interview with Fox Tuesday, the mayor denied the claim that she issued a stand-down order and defended her response to the riots, saying that she was simply making sure the police handled the situation "appropriately."
"You have to understand, it is not holding back. It is responding appropriately," Rawlings-Blake told Fox.
Questions surrounding the mayor's handling of the situation were inflamed by her comments over the weekend that the city must give "space" to those "who wished to destroy."
"It's a very delicate balancing act," she said, "because, while we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well." (video above)
After getting pummeled for the statement, she accused critics of having "twisted" her words.
"I never said nor would I ever say that we are giving people space to destroy our city, so my words should not be twisted,"she said Monday.
The mayor's director of strategic planning issued a follow-up explanation, saying that said that she was simply trying to say that they wished to give "peaceful demonstrators" room to protest. "Unfortunately, as a result of providing the peaceful demonstrators with the space to share their message, that also meant that those seeking to incite violence also had the space to operate."
"The mayor is not saying that she asked police to give space to people who sought to create violence. Any suggestion otherwise would be a misinterpretation of her statement."
During a press conference Monday, Gov. Larry Hogan implied that Rawlings-Blake waited too long to declare a state of emergency.
"Baltimore city was in charge," he said. "When the mayor called me, which quite frankly we were glad that she finally did, instantly we signed the executive order. We already had our entire team prepared."
Things spiraled out of control Monday night after the funeral of Eddie Gray. The results were over 200 arrests, several buildings and over 140 cars burned, and dozens of officers injured. Officials called for reinforcements, including thousands of Guardsmen, and imposed a curfew, calming the situation considerably by Tuesday night.
The details surrounding the death of Gray are unclear. While the family maintains that officers injured him during the arrest, a new report alleges that Gray attempted to injure himself in the back of the police van. A prisoner who was in the van with him claims that he was throwing himself against the walls of the van as they were being transported.
Video via TheDC.