CNN Anchor Brooke Baldwin Blames Veterans for Baltimore Violence-Previously Truth! Now Resolved!
Summary of eRumor:
CNN Anchor Brooke Baldwin blamed the violence that followed the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore on veterans who became police officers.
It’s true that CNN Anchor Brooke Baldwin said that veterans who become police officers are “ready to do battle” and lack a connection to the communities they serve.
However, Brooke Baldwin later apologized and said that she was rehashing a conversation that she had had with a city council member when she made the statement.
Brooke Baldwin made the statement during a live broadcast on April 28, 2015. She was covering the protests and riots in Baltimore that followed the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray while in police custody. Baldwin made her initial comments during an interview with U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.):
“I was talking to a city councilman last week (about police officers) who said, ‘Brooke, these people have to live in the community or there is no emotional investment, or there is a lack of emotional investment.’ A lot of these young people, I’ve been talking about it so much, a lot of these young people, and I love our nation’s veterans, but as some of them are coming back from war, they don’t know the communities, and they are ready to do battle.”
Brook Baldwin’s claim that veterans who become officers were “ready to do battle” set off a firestorm of criticism on social media and blog sites. The next day, she made an on-air apology:
“I wanted to make sure that I came on first thing this morning and told everyone that I made a mistake. We were in the middle of live TV, and I was talking to a member of Congress, and I was recounting a conversation that I had with someone recently that referred to police. I absolutely misspoke. Un-artfully chose my words 100%. I wish speaking to all of you this morning, I wholeheartedly retract what I said. I thought tremendously about this, to our nation’s, you are who I want to speak with this morning, I have the upmost respect for men and women in uniform, and I wanted you to know that this morning. To all of you: I owe you a tremendous apology, I am truly sorry.”
Then, later in the day, Brook Baldwin issued a second on-air apology for her comments:
“But for the second time today, I just wanted to take a moment and discuss something I said on my show just yesterday, and I just want to apologize. During my show, I gave credence to the idea that veterans returning from war who were police officers were furthering the problems in communities like these here in Baltimore and nationwide. And I just have to take a moment again today to say I was wrong. I was so wrong. To speak the way I did, involving our men and women in uniform, to perpetuate this false narrative, is on me, I own it, and I apologize. Please… let’s move on.”
It seems that Brooke Baldwin mixed two separate ideas in her initial comments: the idea that officers should live in the cities that they serve, and the idea that former veterans make bad or aggressive police officers.
There may be some truth to the first point. Many critics of Baltimore’s police force have echoed the claim that officers who live outside the city don’t have an emotional connection to it. The New York Times reports that about 33% of the city’s police force lives in the city, and many residents believe that has created a divide between the community and the police force.
But there’s no evidence or data to support the idea that former veterans make bad cops.