Baltimore Mayor Clarifies Use of the Word ‘Thug’

The point? Words matter.

Regarding the recent news and events in the city of Baltimore, we will very much defer to the many great journalists who have done incredible work covering the story as it develops.

That said, there’s no denying that communication and relationships lie at the heart of the matter. Case in point: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Yesterday, Jezebel posted a headline asking why Rawlings-Blake chose to continue “calling the protesters ‘thugs'” in media appearances. The reasoning behind the headline concerns both the fact that most people gathering in the city were not engaging in criminal behavior and the fact that Rawlings-Blake’s use of the word dismisses their concerns about the obviously poor relationship between the Baltimore Police Department and the citizens of certain neighborhoods it serves and casts the protesters instead as common criminals.

Here’s one of the statements in question:

Today, Rawlings-Blake took to Twitter to essentially apologize for repeatedly using the word.

First, she shared the #OneBaltimore tag, which businesses like CVS have also used in an attempt to focus on moving beyond the events of the past few days:

Here’s Rawlings-Blake’s explanation:

She then linked to a document created for those who want to volunteer.

The point? Her statement serves as a good reminder that the subtleties of language matter.

This is especially true when a public servant wants to communicate with his or her constituents…something that every PR professional understands all too well.

So how did she do?