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FILE - In this June 29, 2011, file photo, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Mikulski walks back comments on riot

U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski is walking back comments she made Wednesday morning in which she called the riots and acts of vandalism and property destruction last month as “a disturbance.”

Mikulski made the comments during an interview on WBAL radio about the federal response to the civil unrest that resulted in a state of emergency in the city in April. Ironically, it was a interview in which she started by joking that she had delayed her commute from Baltimore to Washington DC because she didn’t “want to hit a pothole and hit the wrong note” with host Bryan Nehman.

The senator repeatedly called the riot a disturbance.

“I don’t want to call this a riot,” Mikulski said. “I lived through the Baltimore riots and that was city-wide. This was a disturbance in one primary neighborhood. It was kind of a bell ringer for what was felt in many neighborhoods.”

The senator went on to say that the majority of the city was stable and that while some high school students were involved in altercations with police and civil unrest in the areas around Mondawmin Mall and the intersection of Pennsylvania and North Avenues, the majority of the school students in the city went home.

Those incidents following the funeral of Freddy Gray, which included the looting and burning of some businesses and the destruction of police vehicles, resulted in a 10-day state of emergency in which the National Guard and police agencies from around the state and from Pennsylvania and New Jersey were deployed.

An estimate on the number of businesses that were damaged or destroyed has grown to 37o. Initial estimates from the Small Business Administration place the cost of the riot at about $9 million.

In less than an hour, Mikulski was back on WBAL radio, this time with former Sen. Clarence Mitchell IV explaining her comments.

“There’s no doubt about what happened in Baltimore,” Mikulski said.

“If I was misunderstood, I was trying to show the strengths of our city as well as the problems of our city,” she said before finishing the interview with an apology.

“If anyone thought I minimized the problem, I apologize.” Mikulski said.


  1. you don’t seem to have a good grasp on what she said

  2. When someone calls in an hour later to clarify earlier comments and finishes with an apology, it’s at least a walk back, an attempt to soften.