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Baltimore police union slams ‘passive response’ to ‘full-scale rioting’ over Freddie Gray’s death

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A review by Baltimore’s police union on Wednesday criticized the police response to April rioting over the death of Freddie Gray after his arrest, saying commanders let unrest spiral into arson and looting.

A spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake rejected the evaluation by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, which represents more than 2,500 officers, as a “trumped-up political document.”

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The 32-page union review said police lacked riot equipment and training as well as direction from commanders in facing off against rock-throwing mobs and looters.

“The passive response … allowed the disorder to grow into full-scale rioting,” the review said.

Decisions by Police Commissioner Anthony Batts and aides “left officers in harm’s way, making them vulnerable and susceptible to attack,” it said.

Police have said about 160 officers were injured in rioting that erupted on April 27 after the funeral of Gray, a 25-year-old black man. He died of a spinal injury sustained while being transported in a police van.

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Six officers have been charged in his death, which heightened a U.S. debate on police treatment of minorities.

Nearly 400 buildings were damaged or destroyed, and damage has been estimated in the millions of dollars. National Guard troops were dispatched and a curfew imposed to restore order.

Police commanders have said officers were ordered to hold their lines rather than confront people causing damage or threatening police.

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Officials have said the orders were aimed at protecting officers and bystanders. Union officials have questioned that and requested access to communication records from commanders and City Hall.

In a statement, Kevin Harris, a Rawlings-Blake spokesman, said: “This report is no more than a trumped-up political document full of baseless accusations, finger pointing and personal attacks.”

He said Baltimore had already taken steps to improve areas of weakness, including assessing riot gear and putting monitoring cameras in police transport vans.

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Batts apologized to officers in May, saying he put them in harm’s way.

Other reviews of police performance are being done by the department, aided by the Police Executive Research Forum, a non-profit policy group, and the International Association of Police Chiefs.

Police said on Tuesday that the forum would do its own evaluation.

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Murders have surged in Baltimore since Gray’s death, hitting 155 for the year versus 105 for the same period in 2014. Gunmen killed three people overnight near the University of Maryland, Baltimore, police said.


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How Facebook makes money when people are slaughtered

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The National Rifle Association nearly doubled its spending on pro-gun Facebook propaganda for three weeks after the mass shootings last month in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, according to analytics provided to The Intercept.The social advertising surge began just one day after the Aug. 3 El Paso massacre, which left 22 people dead, and on the same day as the Dayton killings, which took 10 lives. At one point in this period, the NRA was spending $29,000 on a day’s worth of Facebook ads, nearly four times as much as before the shootings, according to Pathmatics, a company that monitors online advertising spending. The ad spending was conducted through the NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, which, in the four weeks before the shootings, spent on average just over $9,400 a day on Facebook ads.Between Aug. 4 and Aug. 25, the institute spent around $360,000 on Facebook — roughly $16,500 per day — reaching a peak of over $29,000 on Aug. 18, according to Pathmatics, which said that it gathered this data from a panel of hundreds of thousands of Facebook users who opt in to automatically share information about the ads they’re shown. Altogether, the ads bought in this period were viewed tens of millions of times, the analytics firm estimated. “The NRA’s ad spend has spiked significantly, which isn’t surprising for an organization in the midst of a reputation battle and crisis,” Pathmatics CEO Gabe Gottlieb said.

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Is a strange Twitter glitch censoring the left?

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The Working Families Party, a New York-based progressive political party, has a reputation befitting its name as a left-populist political organization. So when the organization endorsed the center-left Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren — who was once a hardcore Republican and has emphasized her capitalist credentials — over the explicitly democratic socialist candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sanders (I-Vt.) supporters were understandably disappointed. After all, the party overwhelmingly endorsed Sanders in the previous presidential election. What had changed?

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NYC mayor Bill de Blasio ending his Democratic presidential campaign

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New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has ended his Democratic presidential campaign.

De Blasio made the announcement Friday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," where he explained his decision.

"I feel like I've contributed all I can to this primary election," he said, "and it's clearly not my time."

The mayor said he was optimistic about the Democratic Party's chances in the 2020 election, no matter who was nominated to face President Donald Trump.

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