File this under “Behaviors have consequences”.
In April 2015, encouraged by their black mayor, Baltimore — a majority-black city of roughly 623,000 — erupted into race riots over the death-in-police-custody of Freddie Gray.
The riots plunged Baltimore, the largest city in the State of Maryland, into a state of emergency, wracked by rioting, burning, and looting. 15 buildings were burnt down and many others damaged and looted; 144 cars burnt; pharmacies were looted for drugs; at least 15 police officers were injured; some 200 people were arrested; schools were closed. Business owners, including black owners, fled for their lives, and looters just took what they wanted. One shop-owner said he called police 50 times, but no one came. (Daily Mail)
What began as protests quickly conflagrated into violent riots, in part because the protesters understood Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s comment, “we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well,” as a permission to riot. (See “A movie becomes real: Baltimore race riots understood mayor’s words as permission to Purge“)
The riots’ aftermath was a state of anarchy in Baltimore — in which homicides spiked, police presence was scarce, and residents lived in fear, especially in black neighborhoods. For that matter, the crime spike was not just in Baltimore and Ferguson, but nationwide.
In November 2015, 7 months after the riots, the city admitted a 78% increase in homicides over the same period in 2014, which is more than 100 additional deaths. The surge in killings can be pinpointed to have begun after the riots.
Criminologists and city officials disagree as to the causes for the murder spike:
- Some say police have deliberately pulled back from poor, black neighbourhoods, a theory that the police disputes.
- Others blame an influx of drugs from pharmacies looted during the April riots.
- A third theory is that a decline in trust between the police and the policed has had deadly consequences: fewer residents talk to the police, which leads to fewer murders being solved, which—by lowering the odds of being caught—results in more murders.
Whatever the reason, the killing is continuing.
WJZ CBS Baltimore reports, April 28, 2017, that Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh declared the city’s murder rate is out of control. Violence in Baltimore has reached a crisis level of 100 murders before the end of April — the first time that’s happened in 20 years since 1998.
Mayor Pugh is asking for help from the FBI: “Murder is out of control. I’m calling on all the assistance we can possibly get because I can’t imagine going into our summer months with our crime rate where it is today, what that’s going to look like by the end of the summer.”
Pugh met with the special agent in charge of the Baltimore division of the FBI, but wouldn’t provide specifics. She says they’ll come out next week, and the FBI isn’t talking.
WJZ spoke to public safety expert Rob Weinhold, who isn’t sure the FBI alone will be effective: “I don’t think relying on federal resources is a new strategy at all, in fact, I think the devil is in the detail. You can talk about the FBI and that’s fine, but I’d actually like to see more emphasis on drug enforcement administration, ATF, and the Marshall service to get these folks who are wanted on warrants off the street.”
President Trump has advocated sending in feds to stem violence in Chicago and other cities.
The FBI has 56 field offices nationwide and provides assistance in gang and drug cases. The Bureau had helped during the 2015 riots in Baltimore, by using a video-equipped surveillance plane to monitor lawbreakers — which alarmed privacy advocates.
In May 2015, Freddie Gray’s death was ruled a homicide. 6 Baltimore cops, including 3 blacks, were taken into custody. Caesar R. Goodson Jr., the police officer with the most serious charge — that of depraved heart murder — is black.
Separate trails against the six police officers began in December 2015 through July 2016. The trial against Officer William Porter ended in mistrial. Officers Goodson, Nero, and Rice were found not guilty; the remaining charges against the officers were dropped on July 27, 2016. (Wikipedia)
Like another homicidal city, Chicago, Baltimore too has very strict gun laws. In 2013, the Maryland State Assembly passed one of the strictest gun laws in America — the Firearm Safety Act. (NewsMax)
Baltimore has the distinction of being ranked 19th among the world’s 50 most dangerous cities in 2016. (See “U.S. has 4 of world’s 50 most dangerous cities”)
So much for gun control . . . .