Hogan: Comparisons between Minneapolis, 2015 Baltimore protests not ‘fair’

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan talks about the riots in Minneapolis and their similiarity to the Freddie Gray case. (Courtesy NBC)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Friday that he doesn’t think it is “fair” to compare protests in Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd’s death to those that rocked Baltimore after the 2015 death of Freddie Gray.

Both deaths involved black men in police custody, with Floyd handcuffed and pleading for air as a white police officer knelt on his neck, and Gray’s death being ruled a homicide after injuries to his spinal cord while being transported in a police van.

“The evidence here seems overwhelming and clear to me and you have a video of exactly what happened,” Hogan told NBC, referring to footage of Floyd in Minneapolis. “However, the situation on the ground is reminiscent somewhat of the actions that took place afterwards.”

“And I think back to 2015, I had just become governor of Maryland, I’d only been governor for for 90 days, and the worst violence in 47 years broke out in our largest city,” Hogan said.

The governor called the current situation “tragic.”

“I understand the frustration in the community,” he said.


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But he added that he believes law enforcement action is necessary.

“I think they’ve got to act,” Hogan said. “We sent in the National Guard and police officers to try to keep the community safe, because in the first few hours, we had 400 businesses burned and looted and destroyed.”

“But then we sent in a strong force of police and National Guard and kept the peace while allowing people to protest lawfully and to express their frustrations.”

Hogan said listening to the community is a key part of maintaining the peace.

Workers repair smashed windows at a building south of downtown on Friday, May 29, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. Multiple downtown storefronts had their windows smashed and some businesses were looted early Friday. The damage happened as protesters angry over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody turned out for a demonstration in Columbus that began peacefully but turned violent, with windows smashed at the Ohio Statehouse and storefronts along surrounding downtown streets. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

Damage inside Winan’s Chocolates + Coffees + Wine near downtown on Friday, May 29, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. Franchise owners Monica and Miles Thomas said much of the store’s supplies of wine and chocolate were stolen or smashed. The damage happened early Friday as protesters angry over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody turned out for a demonstration in Columbus that began peacefully but turned violent, with windows smashed at the Ohio Statehouse and storefronts along surrounding downtown streets. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

Protesters demonstrate outside of a burning fast food restaurant, Friday, May 29, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Protesters demonstrate outside of a burning Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Protesters demonstrate outside of a burning Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Protesters demonstrate outside of a burning Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

A liquor store is burned during protests near the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Protesters demonstrate on University Avenue while holding a “WE CAN’T BREATHE” sign and wearing protective masks, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

A protester sprays graffiti on a wall near the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Protesters demonstrate outside of a burning Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

A man makes a video of protesters from the roof of the Minneapolis police 3rd Precinct building, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

A protester gestures in front of the burning 3rd Precinct building of the Minneapolis Police Department on Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

A protester carries the carries a U.S. flag upside, a sign of distress, next to a burning building Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Protesters enter a burning Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

An artist creates an image of George Floyd on Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Violent protests over the death of Floyd, the black man who died in police custody, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Police officers walk through a cloud of tear gas, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

A police officer tosses a tear-gas canister toward protesters on Hamline Avenue, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

A building burns along University Avenue during a protest, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Motorists watch as a building burns during a protest along University Avenue, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

A protester faces off with two police officers using less-lethal ammunition in their weapons, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

A protester douses her face with milk after being exposed to tear gas fired by police, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Protesters watch as police in riot gear walk down a residential street, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

A police officer prepares to throw a tear-gas canister toward protesters, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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“I immediately went to the City of Baltimore., I spent an entire week talking with people and walking the streets and trying to lower the temperature and listened to the concerns. And we after the first day, we had no violence whatsoever,” Hogan said.

“And that’s just my advice is that you’ve got to act. You got to be decisive. And you’ve got to get in there and try it because the violence is not helping situation at all.

Hogan said legitimate concerns and frustrations have to be addressed.

“But burning down buildings and you know this violence and looting and burning police stations is not the answer.”

Hogan also had words for President Donald Trump, who tweeted Friday that he would take action to bring the city of Minneapolis “under control,” calling violent protesters outraged by the death of a black man in police custody “thugs” and saying that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Trump’s tweet was flagged by Twitter for violating rules about “glorifying violence.”

“I do believe that you got to have law and order. We’ve got to stop the burning and looting but inciting violence with Twitter is not the way to go about it,” Hogan said. “Like I said, I walked the streets face-to-face and calmly talked with folks, but inciting things and inflammatory rhetoric isn’t going to help.”

Protests first erupted Tuesday, a day after Floyd’s death in a confrontation with police captured on widely seen citizen video. In the footage, Floyd can be seen pleading as officer Derek Chauvin presses his knee against him. As minutes pass, Floyd slowly stops talking and moving.

Thursday, Minneapolis released a transcript of the 911 call that brought police to the grocery store where Floyd was arrested. The caller described someone paying with a counterfeit bill, with workers rushing outside to find the man sitting on a van. The caller described the man as “awfully drunk” and said he was “not in control of himself.”

Asked by the 911 operator whether the man was “under the influence of something,” the caller said: “Something like that, yes. He is not acting right.” Police said Floyd matched the caller’s description of the suspect.

State and federal authorities are investigating Floyd’s death.

Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, was fired Tuesday, along with three other officers involved in the arrest.

In the Baltimore case of Freddie Gray, Gray was arrested on April 12, 2015, after police made eye contact with him and another man, both of whom ran. Officers put Gray in a police van, and he told officers several times that he needed medical care. He was taken to a police district station before an ambulance took him to a hospital in critical condition.

Gray died at a hospital on April 19. Six days later, a peaceful protest in downtown Baltimore turned violent. Hours after Gray’s funeral on April 27, more unrest lasted into the night. More than 200 people were arrested.

Massive protests over Gray’s death erupted in other major U.S. cities as well, including D.C., New York, Denver, Chicago, Minneapolis, Miami, Philadelphia, Portland and Seattle.

Six Baltimore police officers were charged in Gray’s death. Three were acquitted and then-Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby dropped the remaining cases.

Listen and watch the NBC interview with Hogan below.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on NBC's Today show

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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