The price of racial demagoguery: Baltimore sets new per capita murder record
The American burg that used to be known as "Charm City" for its purported blend of Northern efficiency and Southern charm has new nickname: "Bodymore." The slogan #BlackLivesMatter, shouted in the wake of Freddie Gray's death in 2015, has proven lethal for blacks who live in Baltimore. That city's murder rate, which was on a declining trend in the years leading up to 2015, took a jump after rioters used the "space to destroy" provided for them by Baltimore's then-mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake:
In the wake of severe criticism, police pulled back from proactive measures, such as stop and frisk, with perfectly predictable results. The AP reports:
Baltimore has set a new per capita homicide record as gunmen killed for drugs, cash, payback – or no apparent reason at all.
A surge of homicides in the starkly divided city resulted in 343 killings in 2017, bringing the annual homicide rate to its highest ever – roughly 56 killings per 100,000 people. Baltimore, which has shrunk over decades, currently has about 615,000 inhabitants.
"Not only is it disheartening[;] it's painful," Mayor Catherine Pugh told The Associated Press during the final days of 2017, her first year in office.
The AP is unwilling to make the obvious connection between coddling protesters and hamstringing police on the one hand and the increase in criminality on the other:
The main reasons are the subject of endless interpretation. Some attribute the increase to more illegal guns, the fallout of the opioid epidemic, or systemic failures like unequal justice and a scarcity of decent opportunities for many citizens. The tourism-focused Inner Harbor and prosperous neighborhoods such as Canton and Mount Vernon are a world away from large sections of the city hobbled by generational poverty.
Guns and opioids are not unique to Baltimore, so why is Charm City affected more than, say, Chicago or Minneapolis? The AP does allow that there might be a connection but blames police:
Others blame police, accusing them of taking a hands-off approach to fighting crime since six officers were charged in connection with the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, a black man whose fatal spinal cord injury in police custody triggered massive protests that year and the city's worst riots in decades.
"The conventional wisdom, or widely agreed upon speculation, suggests that the great increase in murders is happening partly because the police have withdrawn from aggressively addressing crime in the city's many poor, crime-ridden neighborhoods," said Donald Norris, professor emeritus of public policy at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
Many Baltimore residents are more certain in their causation theories. NPR reports:
Some residents attribute the high murder rate to relaxed police patrols in the city following high-profile cases of police brutality. Officers have backed off in neighborhoods, like the one where Freddie Gray was arrested.
The Rev. Kinji Scott, a pastor in Baltimore who's held positions in local city government, says the opposite needs to happen.
"We wanted the police there," Scott says. "We wanted them engaged in the community. We didn't want them beating the hell out of us[;] we didn't want that."
He's among activists who are calling for police reform to reduce the violence in Baltimore and several other high-crime cities across the U.S. that he says haven't seen change. That change begins with a conversation between the communities directly involved, Scott says.
"We need the front[-]line police officers and we need the heart of the black community to step to the forefront of this discussion," he says. "And that's when we're going to see a decrease in crime."
The "heart of the black community" needs to acknowledge that policing is a difficult and risky business, in which officers feel vulnerable to being prosecuted or pilloried for commonsense self-protective measures. The "hands up, don't shoot" fiction of malevolent unprovoked police violence in Ferguson, Missouri has caused police officers to back away from confrontations that could prove lethal, as they know they could be prosecuted for defending their own lives.
Reverend Scott could start advancing the discussion he wants by urging his parishioners to repudiate the vicious lies told about police by racial agitators of the BLM school and blame them for driving police away.