Murders are on the rise in Baltimore and arrests by police are down. One possible reason: Cops are making fewer arrests, part of a deliberate work slowdown after six police officers were arrested for Freddie Gray, Jr.’s death in police custody.
In May, Baltimore experienced 43 murders, the deadliest month in the city in 40 years. Arrests are down 50 percent.
This week, another shooting happened near Dajanai Myers’ home.
“It’s not surprising anymore to see police tape or to see a body in the street. “It’s not surprising, because it happens all the time,” Myers told CBS News.
The Baltimore police union issued a statement saying officers are “under siege” and “more afraid of going to jail for doing their jobs properly than they are of getting shot on duty.”
Six officers were charged in the death of Freddie Gray. But police point out in the riots that followed his funeral, more than 150 officers were hurt.
This is a troubling trend where police officers sworn to protect and serve are seemingly intentionally backing off from making arrests in Black communities in Baltimore.
Some community activists argue, correctly, that excessive use of force by police and police-related deaths involving young African American men are driving the surge the violent crimes.
But there is a sad reality that Black America must also confront: Some of our Black young men are gang-bangers who are shooting each other with impunity and these young men need to be arrested and locked up.
Does the media – like Fox News — disproportionately seize on stories about Black on Black crime? Yes. But we must also accept the fact that young men are killing each other everyday and that has absolutely nothing to do with police abuse and misconduct.
Still, the violence continues and law enforcement experts and community activists have no idea when it will end.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told reporters. “It is disheartening, but I am still resolved to continue to reduce violent crime in our city.”
Sadly, Baltimore is part of a national pattern of rising crime in America where gun violence is spiraling out of control.
In Milwaukee, homicides were up 180% by May 17 over the same period the previous year. Through April, shootings in St. Louis were up 39%, robberies 43%, and homicides 25%.
“Crime is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” St. Louis Alderman Joe Vacarro said during a May 7 City Hall hearing.
The Wall Street Journal reported that murders in Atlanta were up 32% as of mid-May. Shootings in Chicago had increased 24% and homicides 17%. Shootings and other violent felonies in Los Angeles had spiked by 25%; in New York, murder was up nearly 13%, and gun violence had increased by 7%.
In an April press conference at the White House, President Barack Obama said: “You’ve got some of the same organizers now going back into these communities to try to clean up in the aftermath after a handful of criminals and thugs who tore up the place.”
Obama was right. But what bothers me is that we can’t have an honest characterization of lawbreakers without criticism.
Baltimore Pastor Jamal Bryant, who delivered a eulogy for Freddie Gray, Jr. said Obama was guilty of “Black-on-Black crime” for calling the city’s rioters “thugs.”
“They have committed Black on Black crime by using that word against people who look just like them. Absolutely,” the Empowerment Temple AME Church pastor told Fox News.
I disagree with Bryant. So what was Obama supposed to call the looters? Protesters? Demonstrators? Freedom fighters?
The crime rate in America’s urban cities continues to escalate and while there are many complex social, systemic, racial and cultural reasons for the hopelessness and despair, we can’t ignore the senseless violence.
The innocent people who live in those communities are impacted by thug culture – senior citizens who are afraid to leave their homes for medicine; children who are shot by stray bullets; young Black men who are strong-armed into joining gangs; and single mothers who worry about their kids walking home from school alone.
We can’t disregard these facts. We have to deal with them.
What do you think?