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Documents reveal city's lapses in response to Baltimore violence

BALTIMORE -- It's been three months since unrest took over the streets of Baltimore. Now we're getting an inside look at confusion at the top levels of Baltimore leadership.

Thousands of emails sent by city officials were obtained by CBS Baltimore's partners at The Baltimore Sun.


Those emails show a breakdown in communication between city leaders as violence erupted in the streets. Rioting and looting broke out after the funeral of Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered a fatal spinal cord injury in police custody.

As police struggled to control crowds and businesses burned, emails from inside City Hall obtained by The Baltimore Sun detail communication breakdowns between leaders.

In a tense exchange, the transportation director, William Johnson, writes: "This issue needs to be corrected unless I am the only person who finds this unacceptable."

"In hindsight, yes, you could have done something better. We know that. You're not human if you can't look at the before you and say I could have done this better, I could have done that better," said Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott.

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Police officers were under-equipped. An order for riot gear was placed as they were being attacked.

Baltimore City Police CFO Thomas Moore writes: "Working on having 200 shields delivered from manufacturer for tomorrow delivery. Wednesday latest."

"We have to make sure that every 'i' is dotted and every 't' is crossed, and I think those lessons were learned," said Sen. Catherine Pugh, (D) Baltimore.

Emails also indicate concern about the mayor's lack of visibility on the day of the uprising.

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Maryland businessman David Cordish writes: "...a visible presence of leadership walking the streets, the mayor arm and arm with business, clergy and political leadership would go a long way."

Pastor Jamal Bryant says everyone struggled to keep up.

"While we were at Penn and North, over in East Baltimore, a senior center is on fire. All of it was up in the air for everybody," said Bryant.

The city is now reviewing its procedures during the riots.

The emails also reveal the mayor wanted to lift the citywide curfew on Saturday, May 2, but the governor's office said no and the curfew was maintained through Sunday.

The emails also indicate police were monitoring social media to look for possible threats or chatter about more demonstrations.