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BALTIMORE (AP) — Antoinette Perrine has barricaded her front door since her brother was killed three weeks ago on a basketball court near her home in the Harlem Park neighborhood of West Baltimore. She already has iron bars outside her windows and added metal slabs on the inside to deflect the gunfire.

“I’m afraid to go outside,” said Perrine, 47. “It’s so bad, people are afraid to let their kids outside. People wake up with shots through their windows. Police used to sit on every corner, on the top of the block. These days? They’re nowhere.”

Perrine’s brother is one of 36 people killed in Baltimore so far this month, already the highest homicide count for May since 1999. But while homicides are spiking, arrests have plunged more than 50 percent compared to last year.

The drop in arrests followed the death of Freddie Gray from injuries he suffered in police custody. Gray’s death sparked protests against the police and some rioting, and led to the indictment of six officers.

Now West Baltimore residents worry they’ve been abandoned by the officers they once accused of harassing them. In recent weeks, some neighborhoods have become like the Wild West without a lawman around, residents said.

“Before it was over-policing. Now there’s no police,” said Donnail “Dreads” Lee, 34, who lives in the Gilmor Homes, the public housing complex where Gray, 25, was arrested.

“I haven’t seen the police since the riots,” Lee said. “People feel as though they can do things and get away with it. I see people walking with guns almost every single day, because they know the police aren’t pulling them up like they used to.”

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said last week his officers “are not holding back” from policing tough neighborhoods, but they are encountering dangerous hostility in the Western District.

“Our officers tell me that when officers pull up, they have 30 to 50 people surrounding them at any time,” Batts said.

At a City Council meeting Wednesday, Batts said officers have expressed concern they could be arrested for making mistakes.

“What is happening, there is a lot of levels of confusion in the police organization. There are people who have pain, there are people who are hurt, there are people who are frustrated, there are people who are angry,” Batts said. “There are people, and they’ve said this to me, ‘If I get out of my car and make a stop for a reasonable suspicion that leads to probable cause but I make a mistake on it, will I be arrested?’ They pull up to a scene and another officer has done something that they don’t know, it may be illegal, will they be arrested for it? Those are things they are asking.”

Protesters said Gray’s death is emblematic of a pattern of police violence and brutality against impoverished African-Americans in Baltimore. In October, Batts and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake invited the U.S. Justice Department to participate in a collaborative review of the police department’s policies. The fallout from Gray’s death prompted the mayor to ask U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch for a full-fledged probe into whether the department employs discriminatory policing, excessive force and unconstitutional searches and arrests.

Baltimore was seeing a slight rise in homicides this year even before Gray’s death April 19. But the 36 homicides so far in May is a major spike, after 22 in April, 15 in March, 13 in February and 23 in January.

Ten of May’s homicides happened in the Western District, which has had as many homicides in the first five months of this year as it did all of last year.

Non-fatal shootings are spiking as well. So far in May there have been 91 — 58 of them in the Western District.

And the arrest rate has plummeted.

The statistics showed that even before Gray’s death, police were making between 25 and 28 percent fewer arrests each month than they made in the same month last year. But in May arrests declined far more sharply.

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(Photo Source: AP)

9 thoughts on “Baltimore Residents Fearful Amid Rash of Homicides

  1. ambientbake on said:

    The greatest danger posed to a black man is another black man. Why are they so violent, disrespectful, and uneducated?

  2. George on said:

    Could somebody please tell me why we do not focus more on black on black crime? We need a huge media and community focus on this huge problem

    • I’ll outline the answers for you George.
      (1) Snitches get stitches.
      (2) “I ain’t no Uncle Tom”.
      (3) And last, it would mean taking responsibility for ourselves instead of deflecting, blaming everyone else for what we do.

  3. And they thought they had to be afraid of the police. Now they get to deal with the real boogieman. What in the hell did they think was going to happen? I’ve said it time and again, and been berated every time I say it. The police should stop responding to 911 calls in these areas. After a while, they won’t worry about crime, because the negroids will eventually kill each other off. No one likes to hear the truth, but a thing can only be what it is.

  4. Guest on said:

    But the police are the problem????? So glad I moved out of B more after arguing with police over Section 8 thugs!!! I smell a change of venue granted! These people get what they deserve. Let Al Sharpton provide security for his flock!

  5. jhuf on said:

    Well that Mayor can call up Al Sharpton again and have him make a speech about how
    Police are systematically murdering the young black men of B-more and gather for a
    Large demonstration only their now won’t be as many to take part in it (you get the government/Leadership you vote for)

  6. chris on said:

    “Our officers tell me that when officers pull up, they have 30 to 50 people surrounding them at any time,” Batts said.
    Unfortunately, those 30 to 50 people aren’t there to offer any information or assistance to the police. They are there to take videos, hoping for a cop to slip up.

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