TIME Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Draws Distinction With GOP on Immigration

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 29: Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a speech during the David Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University in Manhattan, NY April 29, 2015.  (Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)
Kevin Hagen—2015 Getty Images Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a speech during the David Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University in Manhattan, NY April 29, 2015.

Republican policies would create a "second-class status" for immigrants, she argued

Hillary Clinton drew a sharp distinction Tuesday between herself and the 2016 Republican hopefuls on immigration reform, and called for a full path to citizenship for people who came to the United States illegally.

“Today, not a single Republican candidate, announced or potential is clearly consistent in supporting a path to citizenship,” the former Secretary of State said in prepared remarks before a roundtable at a high school in Nevada. “When they talk about ‘legal status,’ that is code for second-class status.”

Calling immigration a family and an economic issue, Clinton said she supported expanding programs for so-called Dreamers to help parents of immigrant children stay in the United States.

Clinton raised eyebrows in June when she said that the unaccompanied minors fleeing violence in Central America should not be allowed to stay in the United States “to send a clear message.” Immigration activists expect Clinton to firmly embrace comprehensive immigration reform as a central part of her platform in 2016.

In response to a question from one of the roundtable participants, Clinton said she would make immigration reform one of her first initiatives if elected.

“We should put in place a simple, straightforward and accessible way for parents of Dreamers and others with a history of service and contributions to their community to make their case and to be eligible for the same deferred action as their children,” she said.

TIME Religion

The Controversial Group Behind the Muhammad Cartoon Contest

Political blogger Pamela Geller, American Freedom Defense Initiative's Houston-based founder, speaks at the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest, which is sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, in Garland, Texas May 3, 2015.
Mike Stone—Reuters Political blogger Pamela Geller, American Freedom Defense Initiative's Houston-based founder, speaks at the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest, which is sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, in Garland, Texas May 3, 2015.

The cartoon contest was organized by a group that critics call anti-Muslim

A shooting in Texas has raised the specter in the United States of violence like the massacre in Paris at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine.

On Sunday, two men fired at a security guard in Dallas outside an art contest displaying cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Security returned fire, and the attackers were shot and killed.

Here’s what you need to know about the attack.

Who organized the contest?
The inaugural “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest” was organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and billed as a celebration of free speech, at a time when images of Muhammad have sparked outrage among Muslims, who consider representations of the Prophet blasphemous. The group offered a $10,000 prize for cartoons of the Islamic prophet and hosted artists who depicted the Prophet. Various hosts, including keynote speaker Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, gave speeches defending free expression, and some made incendiary remarks about Islam. “Our Judeo-Christian culture is far superior to the Islamic one,” Wilders said Sunday at the contest. “I can give you a million reasons.”

What is the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI)?

The group describes itself as a freedom of speech advocacy movement, “opposed to Islamic prohibitions of ‘blasphemy’ and ‘slander.'” It calls for equal rights and freedom of conscience. Critics, including the hate-group tracking Southern Poverty Law Center, characterize the organization as anti-Muslim.

The Anti-Defamation League, which was founded to combat anti-Semitism, said in a 2010 statement, “the group seeks to rouse public fears by consistently vilifying the Islamic faith and asserting the existence of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy ‘American’ values.”

Who is behind it?
Pamela Geller, a conservative blogger. She told the New York Times in 2010 that when Muslims “pray five times a day… they’re cursing Christians and Jews five times a day.” Geller said the only moderate Muslim “is a secular Muslim.”

She describes herself as “anti-Jihad,” however, and not anti-Muslim. “I’m anti-jihad. … I don’t see how anyone could say I’m anti-Muslim. I love Muslims,” Geller told the Village Voice in 2012.

What is AFDI best known for?
The AFDI opposed the construction of an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan in 2010, saying it was an affront to the victims of Sept. 11. The proposed building would have been a “mega-mosque,” Geller said, and the group called it a “beachhead for political Islam and Islamic supremacism in New York.” Developers and backers said the building was in fact a community center with a prayer space inside, and a meeting place for moderate Muslims. The proposal ended up failing, but the developer has since proposed building an Islamic museum at the same location.

The AFDI also posted ads in 2012 on the Washington D.C. subway that said “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” The group has also paid for similar ads on public transportation in New York City, prompting the city’s Metropolitan Transportation Agency to ban all political ads last week.

Why did AFDI plan Sunday’s event?
Geller has said the event was a stand against “Islamic intimidation.” “This event will stand for free speech and show that Americans will not be cowed by violent Islamic intimidation,” Geller told the conservative news outlet Breitbart earlier this year. “If we don’t show the jihadis that they will not frighten us into silence, the jihad against freedom will only grow more virulent.”

The group paid $10,000 for additional security at the event, and local police had planned security for the event months ahead of the exhibit. A bomb squad, the FBI, and a SWAT team were all in place, Reuters reports, in addition to other security guards.

TIME 2016 Election

Carly Fiorina Can’t Be Happy With CarlyFiorina.Org

Republicans Hopefuls Speak At Iowa Faith And Freedom Coalition
Scott Olson—Getty Images Former business executive Carly Fiorina speaks to guests gathered at the Point of Grace Church for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff on April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa.

The webpage hosts a decidedly unsupportive take on the GOP presidential contender

It should be the first commandment of 21st century politics: if you’re even thinking about running for president, register all the domain names available to you.

Carly Fiorina, who announced her presidential bid today, apparently didn’t heed that maxim. The webpage CarlyFiorina.org has been bought by a Fiorina critic, who has peppered it with 30,000 frown faces, each one representing an employee who was laid off when she served as CEO of Hewlett Packard.

Entering the URL CarlyFiorina.org brings the user to this page:

“Carly Fiorina failed to register this domain.

So I’m using it to tell you how many people she laid off at Hewlett-Packard.

It was this many:

:( :( :(…” (And so on.)

“That’s 30,000 people she laid off. People with families,” the anonymous author concludes.

Fiorina, while a pioneering female executive, has been criticized for her tenure at the helm of Hewlett Packard, when thousands of employees were laid off. She was forced to resign in 2005, and went on to advise Republican John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

So let it serve as a reminder to presidential candidates: register your domain names.

TIME politics

See This ‘Superhero’ Kid Get an Obama Fist Bump

President Barack Obama greets Luca Martinez, 4, with a fist-bump as he walks from the White House to board Marine One in Washington on May 2, 2015.
Carolyn Kaster—AP President Barack Obama greets Luca Martinez, 4, with a fist-bump as he walks from the White House to board Marine One in Washington on May 2, 2015.

A young boy is the recipient of a presidential pound

Royal babies get all the attention in England, but what’s the perk of being the son of a press photographer? A once-in-a-lifetime fist-bump with the President.

On Saturday, four-year-old Luca Martinez accompanied his father, Associated Press photographer Pablo, to the South Lawn to see President Obama’s helicopter up close. Luca wore superhero clothes and goggles to protect his eyes during takeoff and covered his ears against the noise, according to CNN.

The President strode out and saw Luca, and gave him a pound for the ages, complete with exploding fist.

It was fun, Luca said when reporters asked him about it.

[CNN]

TIME 2016 Election

Bill Clinton Says Nothing ‘Knowingly Inappropriate’ in Foundation’s Foreign Money

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks at Georgetown University in Washington on April 21, 2015.
Win McNamee—Getty Images Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks at Georgetown University in Washington on April 21, 2015.

The former president has no regrets about taking foreign cash

The Clinton family’s charity has never done anything “knowingly inappropriate,” former President Bill Clinton said in a new interview, as the controversy surrounding foreign donations rattles Hillary Clinton’s weeks-old presidential bid.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we have never done anything knowingly inappropriate in terms of taking money to influence any kind of American government policy,” he told NBC. “That just hasn’t happened.”

Clinton denied allegations that his family’s foundation took money from donors who sought to influence U.S. foreign policy during his wife’s tenure as Secretary of State. In a new book, conservative author Peter Schweizer claims that Hillary Clinton’s State Department gave special treatment to foundation donors.

Bill Clinton said he still has no regrets about accepting millions in foreign donations—despite recently changing his foundation’s rules again to accept only contributions from six Western governments.

“It’s an acknowledgement that we’re going to come as close as we can during her presidential campaign to following the rules we followed when she became Secretary of State,” Clinton told NBC, referring to the foundation’s agreement during Hillary’s tenure at the state department to disclose all foreign contributions. (Foreign governments, however, had continued to give anonymously to a Foundation branch in Canada, where law guarantees privacy to donors.)

Bill Clinton said he is “proud” of the foundation’s work. “There has never been anything like the Clinton Global Initiative,” Clinton told NBC, “where you’ve raised over $100 billion worth of stuff that helped 43 million people in 180 countries.”

[NBC]

TIME animals

Elephants, Rhinos and Other Large Plant-Eaters Face Extinction, Study Says

Elephant Rhino
Getty Images Tshukudu Game Reserve, South Africa.

Scientists see a bleak future for large herbivores

The world’s largest plant-eating animals like elephants and rhinoceroses are facing dramatic population losses due to poaching and resource destruction, with 60% of large herbivores threatened by extinction, according to a new study.

Grass-grazing giants like elephants, hippopotamuses and black rhinoceroses only occupy a tiny fraction of their historical ranges, according to the study in Science Advances, and the loss of herbivores over 100kg (220lb) is likely result in “enormous ecological and social costs.”

The loss of large herbivores has been endemic in Africa for years, but the study sheds new light on the widespread loss of large animals due to over hunting for meat—some one billion people rely on wild meat for subsistence.

Hunting and land-use changes have a devastating effect on those species, with habitat loss due to deforestation and meat hunting having a particularly negative effect. The number of forest elephants in central Africa declined by 62% between 2002 and 2011, and some 100,000 elephants were poached between 2010 and 2012.

Poaching continues to harm large grazers, particularly rhinos. “This slaughter is driven by the high retail price of rhinoceros horn, which exceeds, per unit weight, that of gold, diamonds, or cocaine,” the study said.

Slowing deforestation and over-hunting, and halting poaching, will be crucial to ensure the large grazers don’t go extinct. “Solving the current crisis associated with poaching for meat and body parts is an essential step, although one that is extremely challenging,” the authors write.

TIME Jim Webb

2016’s Only Combat Veteran Recalls the Vietnam War

Former VA Sen. Jim Webb Marks The 40th Anniversary Of The Fall Of Saigon At The Vietnam War Memorial
Win McNamee—Getty Images Former U.S. Sen. and Vietnam war veteran Jim Webb (D-VA) speaks during a ceremony commemorating the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial April 30, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Jim Webb is a Vietnam veteran, former Navy Secretary and former U.S. Senator

Jim Webb offered a rare sight Thursday. Standing on a grassy knoll overlooking a pond at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the likely 2016 Democratic presidential contender spoke in bitter detail about the the fall of Saigon 40 years earlier.

A “very liberal, anti-war Congress” cut off funding to the South Vietnamese shortly before Saigon fell to the Vietcong, Webb argued. “If our political leaders had done a better job with their duty, we may have seen a different situation in Vietnam.”

But more unusual than the topic — a war Americans increasingly consign to history — was how Webb spoke: as a combat veteran.

Despite an unusually large field, the only veterans among the potential candidates in the 2016 presidential race are Webb and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who flew a transport plane for the Air Force in the 1970s but never saw combat.

To Webb, that experience — along with stints in the Department of Defense and one term as a U.S. Senator from Virginia — makes him unusually qualified, if he decides to run.

“I understand foreign policy and defense policy,” he told TIME after his speech, standing with a scrum of reporters on the grass. “I’ve worked on it every possible way you could do it. I grew up in the military I served in combat. My son served in combat. I spent five years in the Pentagon. I served as a military planner in the region.”

There was a time when it would have been unheard of for the only combat veteran considering a run for president to be an underdog with little chance of winning a party’s nomination. From 1948 to 2008, every single presidential contest featured at least one veteran of the armed forces as a party nominee, many of them decorated war heroes. There was John McCain in 2008, John Kerry in 2004, Al Gore in 2000, Bob Dole in 1996, George H.W. Bush in 1992, and so on.

But in 2012, for the first time in more than 70 years, neither party nominee was a veteran. And in 2016, the same is likely to be true again.

Webb has a long resume of combat credentials. He served as a lieutenant, and then a platoon commander in Vietnam, earning a Navy Cross, a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts. A Navy account has him capturing Viet Cong soldiers, throwing claymore mines into bunkers, and shielding soldiers from grenades with his own body. He was later assistant Secretary of Defense and U.S. Secretary of the Navy under President Reagan.

Military veterans such as Webb aren’t just a rarity in presidential races. Their numbers have declined dramatically among all politicians. In the 92nd Congress (1971-1972), 73% of congressmen were veterans. Today, fewer than 20% of members of Congress have served in the military. On the Supreme Court, only Justice Samuel Alito has served.

That reflects a broader trend in the United States since President Nixon ended the draft in 1973: fewer and fewer Americans have served in the military. Today, 12.7% of all adults are veterans. Among senior citizens, those number are much higher, with more than half of men ages 65-69 having served in the military, and 81% of men over 90 counted as veterans, according to a Gallup poll last year.

Webb’s military past hasn’t made him a hawk. He questioned the Iraq War months before the invasion began in 2003, doubting that a war against Saddam Hussein would help the United States combat terrorism.

But on Thursday, he struck a bellicose tone on the Vietnam War that a non-veteran might hesitate to use. Pointing at the nearby Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which lists the name of all the American dead from the war, he said a memorial with the names of the South Vietnamese would be “four times” as big. And then he boasted, “if there was a wall for the communist soldiers who we fought against in those battles, that wall would be 24 times as big as that wall.”

TIME Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders: The Populist Preacher Runs for President

Bernie Sanders Leads March Against Fast Track Trade
Win McNamee—Getty Images Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) participates in a "Don't Trade Our Future" march organized by the group Campaign for America's Future in Washington on April 20, 2015.

"People should not underestimate me," the Vermont Senator says

Bernie Sanders can kvetch like the great end-of-days preachers of old. When the white-haired senator stands behind the podium, he hunches, and punctuates his points with the tips of his fingers close together, as if grasping a jelly bean. He still has not lost his gravelly Brooklynese after decades in the backhills of Vermont. Income inequality, jobs, financial security—it’s all going to hell in a hand basket. To merely call Sanders a complainer, however, would ignore the urgency of his message: America really is in trouble.

“All of you know what’s going on in America today!” the Vermont senator said in a speech last week in Washington, D.C., where federal workers were rallying for better pay. “We have millions of working people living in poverty, and 99% of all new income is going to the top 1%. That is not what America is supposed to be about!”

The crowd surrounding him murmured its assent, and Sanders continued. “A great nation will not survive when so few have so much, and so many have so little!”

It is a prophecy that Sanders has been preaching for many years. Billionaires are buying our elections, too many Americans aren’t getting by, income inequality is becoming so extreme, and the country is reaching a breaking point.

Now, Sanders, the son of a Polish-Jewish paint salesman, a Brooklyn native and Vermont Senator, a former carpenter, filmmaker and writer, is running for president. Sanders confirmed his decision with the Associated Press on Wednesday, and by the end of May, he will officially kick off his campaign with an event in Burlington, Vt.

He is a blip in the polls, and he faces one of the strongest candidates ever to run in a primary, Hillary Clinton. But he has a deeply devoted following in Vermont, where he won his last reelection with 71% of the vote. He has friends in the primary states, and a grassroots fundraising operation. He’s a hardscrabble politician: he lost repeated races before getting elected mayor of Burlington in 1981. He represented Vermont for 16 years in the House and is midway through his second Senate term. He has a message that resonates, and he plans to run a serious campaign.

“People should not underestimate me,” Sanders told the AP on Wednesday night. “I’ve run outside of the two-party system, defeating Democrats and Republicans, taking on big-money candidates and, you know, I think the message that has resonated in Vermont is a message that can resonate all over this country.”

Sanders’ main problem is the only real one in politics: his electability. Sanders is the avowed contrarian of Washington. He’s a self-professed democratic socialist at a time when many Americans see the “S” word as the political equivalent of bed wetting. He’s one of just two Independents in Congress. (He will run for president as a Democrat.) He’s not afraid to compare the United States to other countries like Denmark and Norway. Born Jewish, he says he identifies with Pope Francis.

Read more: The Presidential Candidate Who Agrees the Most with Pope Francis

So naturally, in this time of polarization, Sanders has a devoted following. He’s made multiple trips in recent months to New Hampshire, Iowa, and other states around the country, and often attracted enthusiastic crowds. In recent polls in New Hampshire, he hovers above 10%. In late-April poll in Iowa, he got 14% of caucus-goers support. He attracts the discontented and the progressive.

“We had town hall meetings with Bernie Sanders,” said Hugh Espey, an Iowa-based activist who runs the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. “He got a great reception from everyday folks. Grandmas, grandpas, regular people. Fifteen hundred people came out to four town hall meetings. People are hungry for a fighter.”

The 2016 cycle will likely be the most expensive election in history by far. Hillary Clinton’s supporters and outside groups are seeking to raise well over $1 billion, and the Koch brothers plan to spend close to $900 million this election. For his part, Sanders won’t be waiting on wealthy donors in New York and Washington D.C. to write him checks, and there is no serious Bernie Sanders super PAC. Fundraising from millionaires, after all, is anathema to Sanders’ message.

To compensate, Sanders will rely on a not-so-secret money raiser: social media. Everybody’s doing it, but few will rely on it like the Vermont senator, whose team has a technological savvy that outpaces its political profile. With 291,000 Twitter followers and nearly 1,000,000 Facebook likes, he’s got a much bigger following than more powerful senators like minority leader Harry Reid, Mike Lee, and Elizabeth Warren. As any campaign handbook will tell you, social media outreach can seed small-dollar contributions and, eventually, votes.

If the social network lacks the firepower of multimillion-dollar donor network, or the closed-door fundraiser in Miami Beach, it has the potential to total many millions made up of $25 or $50 donations. That will complement the more than $4.5 million Sanders has on hand for his 2018 Senate reelection campaign, according to an FEC report, which he could use for a presidential race.

“We’re going to run a serious, credible campaign. It’s going to cost a lot of money,” said Tad Devine, who will be a top advisor to Sanders. (Devine held senior roles in the Al Gore and John Kerry presidential campaigns.)

“The front-end budget will be in the neighborhood of $50 million up and through the early states,” Devine said. “There will be a full-fledged campaign in some early states, and to gain access nationally and put the national campaign in scope, there’ll be costs.”

Sanders has earnest ideas, even if he hasn’t laid out all his policies in detail yet. He wants the United States to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure projects across the country, which Devine says could put more than one million people to work. He supports tighter regulations on Wall Street, opposes free-trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and proposes raising taxes on the rich. He will fight climate change, and push back against money in politics.

But Sanders biggest campaign theme could well be the campaign itself. It’s a meta-campaign—a campaign that is a message that is a campaign. In a note to his supporters, Sanders said early Thursday: “This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders. It about a grassroots movement of Americans standing up and saying: ‘Enough is enough. This country and our government belong to all of us, not just a handful of billionaires.’” It’s a campaign about populism, about running against giants like Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, and about underdogs—be they working families or presidential candidates.

The question is whether voters outside his home state will be able to picture him in the White House. In that way, his campaign is about to be like a piece of spaghetti, thrown at the wall.

“We have to see whether this translates into a powerful message, and into the more prescribed contours of a presidential campaign,” said Devine. “Not just union halls, town hall meetings and auditoriums, which he’s been using as sounding board. We have to see whether he gets in with real voters. Whether this moves them.”

TIME Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Calls for an End to ‘Mass Incarceration’

Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University on April 29, 2015 in New York City.
Kevin Hagen—Getty Images Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University on April 29, 2015 in New York City.

She called for a re-evaluation of prison sentences and trust between police and communities

Hillary Clinton called on Wednesday for broad criminal-justice reform and renewed trust between police officers and communities, reflecting the former first lady’s evolution from supporting the policies instituted by her husband two decades ago in a period of high crime rates.

Clinton called for body cameras in every police department in the country, as well as an end to an “era of mass incarceration.” Her speech came two days after the funeral in Baltimore of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody, and amidst ongoing civil unrest in that city.

Read more: How Baltimore Police Lost Control in 90 Minutes

“There is something profoundly wrong when African-American men are far more likely to be stopped by the police and charged with crimes and given longer prison terms than their white counterparts,” Clinton said. “There is something wrong when trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve breaks down … We must urgently begin to rebuild bonds of trust and respect among American between police and citizens.”

Clinton offered few specific policy plans in the speech, and didn’t explain how police forces would pay for body cameras on all officers. She spoke broadly about reducing jail sentences for low-level offenders and the effects of imprisoning millions, particular African Americans. “We don’t want to create another incarceration generation,” Clinton said.

Clinton planned Wednesday’s speech in November, months before she announced her candidacy, according to former New York mayor David Dinkins, who introduced her. In her three weeks as a presidential candidate, Clinton’s only major speeches have been at noncampaign events like today’s at Columbia University. Her comments were her most significant on domestic policing since she ended her tenure as Secretary of State in 2013.

The police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., last year sparked a nationwide debate about body cameras for officers, and subsequent police killings of black men caught on camera in New York State, South Carolina and Ohio have fueled calls for reform.

Her remarks Wednesday reflected an evolution from the policing and incarceration policies that she supported in the 1990s, when as First Lady, she called for tougher prison sentences and “more prisons.” As President, Bill Clinton enacted a 1994 crime bill that built more prisons and increased the number of federal and death-penalty crimes, a bill that Hillary lobbied for in Congress.

“We need more police, we need more and tougher prison sentences for repeat offenders,” Hillary Clinton said in 1994. “The three strikes and you’re out for violent offenders has to be part of the plan. We need more prisons to keep violent offenders for as long as it takes to keep them off the streets.”

Clinton’s campaign objected to an earlier version of this story that said the former First Lady “rejected” President Bill Clinton’s tough-on-crime stance of the 1990s, when crime rates were significantly higher than they are today. “1999 and 2015 are two very different times,” said a campaign aide. “Crimes rates have dropped by 50%. Different circumstances require different policy solutions.”

The violent crime rate in 1991 before Bill Clinton took office was 44.1 victims per 1,000 people, and rose to a 1990s high of 51.2 per 1,000 people in 1994 when Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act into law. But today, with violent crime rates having dropped to less than 20 per 1,000 people, many are calling for an adjusted approach towards crime.

Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that federal money needed to be used to “bolster best practices” rather than equipping police with military equipment, and called for reducing the prison population. Her thinking reflects a broader evolution around the country, with politicians on both the left and the right backing ideas to reduce the prison population and change sentencing. Rand Paul, Chris Christie, the Koch brothers and many Democrats have also pushed for reform.

The views Clinton expressed Wednesday aren’t new. In her first presidential campaign, Clinton called it a “disgrace” that “so many more African Americans” were incarcerated than whites, and as early as 2000 decried policing practices that appeared to target African Americans and Latinos. “Let us start by recognizing that crime is down dramatically — and lives have been saved in this city — because every day, brave men and women put on a uniform and place themselves in harm’s way to protect us,” she said in 2000. “And let us also recognize that far too many people believe they are considered guilty simply because of the color of their skin.”

 

TIME police

How Baltimore Police Lost Control in 90 Minutes

US-POLICE-CRIME-RACISM
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI—AFP/Getty Images Baltimore police officers form a line in front of protesters in the streets near Mondawmin Mall April 27, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.

An outnumbered and irresolute police force was unable to stop the Baltimore riot on Monday

On school days in western Baltimore, local kids gather at a drab shopping center called Mondawmin Mall where bus routes begin and end. On Monday, the hangout became the scene of a riot.

Policing experts who reconstructed the events of the day said that Baltimore police did not send enough officers to the situation at the start, failed to quickly make arrests once trouble began and did not deploy additional officers quickly enough. Key decisions led the situation to spiral out of control in a short 90 minutes, a lesson other police departments should heed.

Baltimore’s police force was prepared for more unrest related to the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered a spinal injury while in police custody. Messages on social media seemed to be goading students to violence, so police went to the mall in riot gear by around 3 p.m. Still, they went prepared for typical high school rebellion, not a full-blown riot.

“When we deployed our officers yesterday, we were deploying for a high school event,” Baltimore Capt. J. Eric Kowalczyk told reporters on Tuesday.

Baltimore cops are trained to handle violent crowds, former police officials told TIME. Officers are drilled in maneuvers — how to form defensive lines, what formations to stand in, how to divide and conquer a crowd. But while police can practice arrests, subduing suspects and even home assaults, there is no real preparation for an angry mob like facing an angry mob itself. In the 90 minutes that Mondawmin Mall transformed from transit hub to launching pad for a riot, Baltimore police were outnumbered and too passive in pursuing arrests, experts said.

MORE: Baltimore Mayor Defends Handling of Riots

The timeline of Monday’s unrest goes something like this. By 3:30 p.m., the kids were throwing bottles and bricks at police officers. They were ordered to disperse, but the violence escalated as officers were injured. By 4:30 they were setting fires and making their way downtown. The police were unable to stop them. “I was there. I saw our reaction. I gave directions to advance,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said. “They just outnumbered us and they outflanked us.”

The officers at Mondawmin Mall were too small a group to properly handle the crowd, experts say. There were enough officers at the mall to hold a line and some property, but not enough to penetrate the crowd and make arrests, says Neill Franklin, who oversaw Baltimore police training from 2000 to 2004. “You’ve got to have enough boots on the ground,” said Franklin. “Without that, there’s nothing you can do. You’ll be overwhelmed very quickly.” Also important for policing is a deep familiarity with surrounding streets and alleys. In order to secure an area, Franklin said, police should know all the access and exit points where protestors can approach from.

Before backup arrived, the police officers stationed on the streets around Mondawmin Mall were unable to arrest stone-throwers quickly enough to snuff out the violence.

For a crucial hour and a half on Monday afternoon, they were pelted with rocks as high school and middle-school students ran through the streets. Outnumbered, the officers were forced to retreat and hold their lines, and the crowd quickly got out of control. “The moment the first bottle or the first rock is thrown first, or the first officer is assaulted, action has to be taken,” said Jon Shane, associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “And it has to be swift, and it has to be firm.” Much of the crowd had already moved downtown by the time enough police had arrived to make arrests.

Overall, the problem seems to be that police were too passive, an ironic situation given that the protests were related to overly aggressive tactics officers have taken in other circumstances.

The Baltimore Police Department has in recent years sought to tone down aggression. A comprehensive retraining in the late 2000s connected Baltimore cops with young people in the city, while the top brass has warned officers repeatedly in recent months not to overstep behavioral bounds. “In past years, had there been riots like this there isn’t any question there would have been many hundreds of arrests,” said Adam Walinsky, a onetime advisor to former Attorney General Robert Kennedy who led Baltimore’s program to retrain its city police from 2007 to 2012. But with tight police oversight, Walinsky added, “what are they supposed to do?”

MORE: Baltimore Mom Explains Why She Smacked Son at Riot

It didn’t help that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake gave mixed signals in the days before the riots. The police were instructed “to do everything they could to make sure the protestors were able to exercise their right to free speech. It’s a very delicate balancing act,” Rawlings-Blake said, adding, “we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.” She later walked back her comments, and expressed outrage that property was being looted. But much of officers’ restraint can be attributed to the appearance of hesitancy at higher levels, critics say.

Still, the police department’s tepid response to the first hour and a half of violence may have actually saved lives. Years of close training meant that despite all the police injuries, no police fired on the crowd, and no protestors were killed. “What I was impressed with is when they had bricks thrown at them, the police officers held their fire,” said Ret. General Russel L. Honoré, who led operations and brought calm to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. “The police showed extraordinary restraint.”

Compared with the Los Angeles riots of 1992, when 53 people were killed, or the Baltimore riots of 1968 when more than 600 were injured, the unrest has so far been relatively tame. “Police have been really great example of being reserved of not doing some of the things we’ve seen in other cities,” said Franklin. “They are really doing their best not to make things worse by being overly aggressive.”

After the showdown at Mondawmin Mall, the west Baltimore kids were joined by adults who burned buildings and looted on their way downtown. By Tuesday morning, 19 police officers had been injured, 15 buildings and 144 cars were set on fire, and more than 200 people had been arrested. For millions at home watching eerie scenes of looting and night fires on television, the violence looked similar to the riots that unfolded in Ferguson last year. Unlike Ferguson, though, there were no rubber bullets at Mondawmin Mall, assault rifles or fleets of heavily armored vehicles. In the first hour and a half of the riots, there was just a hapless group of Baltimore police officers, struggling to contain a crowd that was too big, and too unpredictable.

In a larger sense, the decisions police made on Baltimore’s streets yesterday don’t matter much. It’s the long game of improving police community relations that counts. Many have urged the Justice Department to provide more funding for police training and special programs. “This problem didn’t start last night or last week or when Freddie Gray got killed,” said Walinsky, the Baltimore police reformer. “Once a riot starts, it’s a little late.”

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