House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) questioned whether it’s the job of law enforcement to conduct “guerrilla warfare” on city streets, before quickly correcting her word choice.
At a press conference today, Pelosi opened by stressing “all of us who love justice and all of us who love Baltimore are deeply saddened by the death of Freddie Gray and deep the wounds that have been laid bare in the Baltimore community.”
“Of course, we hope for the speedy recovery of the police officers who were hurt,” she added. “Freddie’s death, though, in police custody demands answers, and I’m pleased that the Department of Justice has opened an investigation as to what happened. To find justice, we must respect the great successful tradition of nonviolence.”
“…The fury of despair, of no hope is something throughout the world, and including in our — in our country that evokes an angry response, but we again also have to respect the responsibilities our law enforcement officers take when they leave home to protect the community.”
Pelosi said there ultimately “has to be something different happening in the orientation of not only our police, but our justice system.”
Pressed later on the role Congress can play in that “reorientation,” Pelosi said, “I do think also that we all have to respect the role that our law enforcement agencies play, and what are they — what is their job?”
“Is their job to maintain order — law and order, and protect people from criminal offenses and the rest of that? And report them, or is it to fight a guerrilla war on the streets of a city? There has to be a different kind of training for that,” she said.
“I don’t mean a guerrilla war. I don’t want to overstate it that way. But actions taken by some that are a departure from the normal responsibilities of a police officer. And that doesn’t mean anything about peaceful protest or enthusiastic protest. It means targeted actions against the police and against the safety of the people who are trying to demonstrate peacefully.”
She added that “we can’t let anybody exploit” the power of peaceful protest “by hooliganism.”
“On the other hand, we have to have a balance in how we make judgments about it,” Pelosi said. “So, in the meantime, it would be great if we had a great summer jobs program where we can put people to work. You know, things that alleviate some of the despair that people have out there.”