BALTIMORE — One day last fall, on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore, Martin O’Malley stood atop Fort McHenry and swept his hand over the landscape below. “That was the battlefield,” he said. “It all happened here.”
The same could be said for much of Mr. O’Malley’s political career. Baltimore has defined him, whether as a 28-year-old member of the City Council or as a two-term mayor whose strength in the city twice propelled him to the governor’s mansion.
But this week, as Mr. O’Malley prepares his long-shot challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, Baltimore became a burden.
When riots exploded over the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who was critically injured in police custody, Mr. O’Malley rushed back to the cityfrom London to visit the scene of the protests, meet with local leaders and deliver food at churches. But on those familiar streets, critics old and new questioned his record as mayor, the “zero tolerance” brand of policing he introduced and the lingering effects it had on the relationship between law enforcement and Baltimore’s poor communities.
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