BALTIMORE, April 30 (UPI) -- Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake took back her comments calling protesters "thugs," saying she used the wrong words in the heat of the moment.
"I wanted to clarify my comments on 'thugs.' When you speak out of frustration and anger, one can say things in a way that you don't mean," she said on Twitter. "That night we saw misguided young people who need to be held accountable, but who also need support. And my comments then didn't convey that."
Critics say Rawlings-Blake and others who have used the word to describe the protesters, including President Barack Obama, are being insensitive. The episode also underscores the fine line Rawlings-Blake is walking in the largely black city. Raised in an affluent family, some charge she's out of touch with the city's poor.
On CNN, Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes likened the word "thugs" to the "n" word saying Rawlings-Blake is not in touch with the community.
"Of course it's not the right word, to call our children 'thugs,' " Stokes told CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront. "These are children who have been set aside, marginalized, who have not been engaged by us. No, we don't have to call them thugs."
Police arrested more than 230 demonstrators Monday night into Tuesday in riots that erupted after the funeral for Freddie Gray, who died of a broken spine suffered while in police custody.