Fragile Baltimore Struggles to Heal After Deadly Police Encounter the New York Times headline proclaims. As you can see from our headline, the story offers some hard data in addition to its touchy-feely examination of post-Freddie Gray Baltimore’s black community. The stats provided by writer Sheryl Gay Stolberg indicate that the City’s police force are failing to keep a lid on crime, amidst allegations that they’ve backed off after six officers were charged with Mr. Gray’s homicide. Continuing to fail? Strangely . . .
the article never once uses the word “gang.”
The Greatest City in America is home to the Black Guerrilla Family, the Bloods and the Crips. They don’t like each other. At all. Gang members die in droves, thanks to rivalry-driven “gun violence.” You may recall the BPD’s public warning that the three gangs had declared a truce to go after cops after Freddie Gray’s death. Fabricated. Which gives us a good indication of the Baltimore police force’s level of professionalism and efficacy. Let’s put some numbers to that:
The homicide rate is soaring. Baltimore, with roughly 623,000 people, has had 270 homicides this year, almost as many as in New York, with 281 in a city of about 8.4 million. Nearly 100 people have been murdered in Baltimore in the last three months alone, eight in the last week . . .
The homicide “clearance rate,” the percentage of killings solved by the police, was 45.5 percent last year; today it is 32.8 percent, the police said. Nationally, the rate was 64 percent in 2013, the most recent year for which the Justice Department has statistics.
In response, the Rawlings-Blake administration has created a “war room” — a controversial term here, given tensions between the police and residents — where detectives, prosecutors and federal agents trace weapons and track down criminals. Mr. Davis, the police commissioner, says the team has identified 238 “gun toters,” all suspected of homicides or nonfatal shootings. None are behind bars.
Don’t get me wrong. The cops’ failure to shut down Baltimore’s gang-fuelled violence should not be seen in isolation. I grew up in a state (Rhode Island) that was owned and operated by the mafia. I know what Gotham or Baltimore-style corruption looks like. It’s a cancer that consumes every aspect of society: police, politics, the courts, teachers, businessmen, criminals, the media, taxpayers, everyone. At some point, there are more leeches than hosts.
“A lot of people in white and wealthy corporate America said, ‘What did we not do, to make these neighborhoods better?’ ” said Tessa Hill-Aston, the president of the Baltimore chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., who also attended the Johns Hopkins reception. “There’s not a corporate board meeting where Freddie Gray’s name doesn’t come out of everyone’s mouth.”
To Mr. Hickman, these are hopeful signs. But as he looked around Mr. Daniels’s elegantly appointed living room that evening — just hours after a judge had set Nov. 30 as the date for the first of the six trials in Mr. Gray’s death — he also felt a sense of unease as he contemplated the murky path forward.
“The city is definitely on hold,” the pastor said. “We’re on ‘pause,’ waiting to press ‘play.’ ”
Everything either grows or dies. Allegations of racist redlining aside, Baltimore is dying. Those who look at the City’s firearms-related homicides and focus on the guns – rather than the system surrounding and supporting the criminals using them – are on a fool’s errand. In fact, they’re helping to maintain the status quo. Just like The New York Times.