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Satisfied? Police spokesman’s remarks on bloody weekend stir outrage

"I can see how it looks bad," says Guglielmi, who now calls weekend violence "unspeakable" and "unacceptable."

After one of the deadliest weekends in Baltimore in several years – 8 people dead, 20 shot in all during the period from Friday afternoon to Monday morning – comments by the city police spokesman are prompting blistering criticism in some quarters.

“Let’s share this quote again because it’s so good,” wrote novelist Laura Lippman on Facebook today, pulling out this comment by Anthony Guglielmi, spokesman for the Baltimore City Police Department.

“This is a little bit of a spike in terms of the weekend, but all in all, we’re pretty satisfied with the way the city is headed violence-wise,” Guglielmi said, in Carrie Wells’ story in today’s Baltimore Sun. Commenters, prompted by former Sun reporter-turned crime-and-mystery-novelist Lippman, piled on.

“I’d like to make that police spokesman repeat that statement face to face to the families of the dead and wounded,” Marjorie Tucker wrote.

“What they really mean is that as long as no white people, famous people, tourists, or kids were killed they’re cool with it,” Brian Quertermous added.

“Guess they mean young, black, male Baltimoreans seem to be policing themselves,” wrote ex-Sun reporter Frank Roylance.

“Seriously, what the hell, this weekend? … Batts and SRB both have their phones off the hook, so the bon mots of their minion will have to suffice,” the popular Baltimore Crime blog said, repeating Guglielmi’s words.

Since then, Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts has appeared at a hastily-called press event today in the 700 block of Kenwood Avenue where five people were shot and one killed on Saturday.

(Mayor Rawlings-Blake, for her part, was presumably winding up the last day of her participation in another meeting in Las Vegas, this one a U.S. Conference of Mayors gathering. Her spokesman issued a statement saying she vows “to do everything we can to reduce violence and make our neighborhoods safer.”)

“I Can See How it Looks Bad”

Guglielmi, meanwhile, asked to respond to negative responses to his quote, said he thinks people are missing the context in which it was given.

“The question to me was ‘How does the department feel about violence in the city in the past year?’” he said in a phone conversation with The Brew this afternoon.

“Overall we’re trending down. We don’t want people to lose faith in the Baltimore Police Department.”

Officers “are working hard to achieve this” and are “going to keep doing what we’re doing, going after bad guys with guns, and working these cases very hard,” Guglielmi said, noting that they already have established the gang connection in at least one of the shooting scenes.

Nevertheless, were his comments as quoted off-base?

“I can see how it looks bad with the weekend,” Guglielmi said. “The weekend’s actions were unspeakable, and not acceptable.”

Some commenters had a more nuanced view of Guglielmiu’s remarks. “The danger of mixing political messaging with police work. Awful,” Tim Windsor wrote on Facebook.

“Putting this in perspective, however, it’s not the police doing the murdering,” Preston Wills wrote, as part of the lengthy thread on Lippman’s page. “I think we should be more outraged by the actions of the killers than by the words from a Baltimore police spokesperson.”

But others said his seemingly dismissive words carried weight.

“I think it is the attitude of the Police – and the implicit criticism that they are not controlling crime – that has annoyed people, rather than anyone accusing them of murder, Preston,” wrote David Gatehouse.

“Should the police ever be satisfied with the way things are going, violence-wise?” Lippman asked. “And, more to the point, should they be satisfied in a city that saw. . .  8 dead in a weekend?”

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  • trueheart4life

    Unacceptable … Period!!!

    • Barnadine_the_Pirate

      If only that were the case. The killers arrested in Baltimore are not sociopathic loners. They have communities, friends, girlfriends, children, etc. If this was truly unacceptable, we would not see all of the witnesses go silent, we would not see the killers getting help from their friends and neighbors, we would not, frankly, see nearly so much killing. If it was unacceptable, we wouldn’t see jurors refusing to convict defendants on the basis of race and community solidarity.

      When people in Baltimore start ostracizing the armed & dangerous members of their community, then we can say it’s “unacceptable.”

  • David Eastman

    Officials look at crime as just numbers….low numbers mean they keep their phony baloney jobs. There care not about the human tragedy as long as they can get re-elected.

    • davethesuave

      that’s pretty harsh, and totally presumptuous. how the heck do you know what is in someone’s brain? i certainly don’t, but it seems like a hell of a job, full of aggravation & ingratitude from the very people you’re trying help. and since we’re engaging in bullshit speculation, i’ll bet that for every cop who doesn’t give a crap, and logically is miserable in their chosen profession, i’ll say there are 100 cops who do care. tell you what: give it a go, why don’t you, then get crapped on for trying to get through the shift, while getting squeezed from all sides, citizens, supervisors, media (Brew excepted), trolls, then you can complain about your real job. or better yet, let’s give every cop a month off at the beach, starting now. the citizens of this fair city would BEG to get them back.

    • Barnadine_the_Pirate

      I don’t know the details behind the weekend killings but if they are like almost every other shooting in Baltimore, it’s Thug A killing Thug B. We could make Jesus Christ the police commissioner and thugs would still shoot each other to death with dismaying regularity.
      The police do what they can (or at least did under the prior Commissioner), trying to intercept the violent armed felons before they start piling up bodies, but at the end of the day it will take a massive culture shift that makes thughood unacceptable in the neighborhoods most at risk of violence. Until that happens, we will always be plagued with violence.

  • Jonathan

    Violent crime in this city begins many years before an actual event. Fathers abandon families, parents don’t keep their kids in school, kids get addicted or involved in drugs, obtain firearms, and shoot people. Exactly what part of this sequence are the police responsible for? Like everything else, people what others to be responsible for them, to provide for them. No police force can reverse the damage done when groups of people can’t or won’t take responsibility for their own lives. For example, we complain that there are not enough police personnel. But the city can’t afford it if a large population of its tax base is uneducated, unemployed, and living off food stamps rather than working and paying taxes into the system.

    • Richelle Waitinongodjohnson

      Well said Jonathan this problem like any other that gets ignored is systemic. This is the most intelligent comment I’ve heard since this rash of lawlessness……Thank you for making it so plain…..period!

  • Booger

    How is the clusterf*ck of facebook comments and twitter farts considered
    journalism? Oh people are outraged? Really? Please tell me more.

    If you think the Police have a legal obligation to protect you, you are incredibly naive. They are simply here to clean up the mess – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_v._District_of_Columbia

    -There is no sense of family/community, (oh don’t worry, it’s more than just Baltimore) unless you’re looking to start a fight with someone from a different area code. Don’t look for it to come from a rec renter, church, or government entitlement program, suck it up and raise your sh*tty kids.

    -Drug addiction is a medical issue, decriminalization alone would free up enough law enforcement cash to fund universal healthcare and address it like a civilized society. Not to mention destroy the black market, anyone remember prohibition? Probably not, public schools are an underfunded joke.

    -While we’re at it lets disarm law abiding citizens. Surely these new gun laws will save us. “Oh this is a gun free zone? I guess I’ll have to go on a rampage somewhere legally designated as a rampage zone.” What could possibly go wrong, DC, Chicago, NJ and CA have all but eliminated gun violence with legislation… right?

    Lets summarize:
    1. Universal healthcare good. Abortions should be free, hell I’ll chip in.
    2. Let people who aren’t criminals and/or mentally unstable own a gun, how does “shall not be infringed” become debatable?
    3. Decriminalize drug possession. Drugs should be available in a regulated market, just like alcohol and tobacco. People aren’t going to stop using them no matter what you do.
    4. Fund public schools like we fund political campaigns.
    5. Watch violence, poverty, ignorance, and hatred drop.

    • davethesuave

      said well. because i agree. but the mongers will flock soon.

    • River Mud

      From what I understand, the Crips, Bloods, MS13, and Black Guerrilla Family will all be lining up at the nearest state police barracks on October 1 (effective date of the new gun control law) to register and/or hand in all of their weapons. The law didn’t increase legal consequences for committing gun violence, or make it (significantly) harder to illegally obtain a gun….it just made it difficult to legally buy one for legal purposes.

  • cwals99

    I stated before that I attended the Johns Hopkins symposium on gun
    control and talked with Daniel Webster as to the flaw in Hopkins’
    approach to gun control. I made the obvious statement that it was the
    ‘bad guys’ at the top of the income ladder that were the problem and
    that draining the economy and government coffers of tens of trillions of
    dollars has deepened poverty and escalated crime and
    violence…..ergo…..the increased buying, trading, and using of guns.
    IT IS THE BAD GUYS AT THE TOP OF THE INCOME LADDER DANIEL! Daniel didn’t
    see any problems at the top of the ladder and simply said ‘we don’t
    want to hear excuses’! So, the problem and solution is now an excuse to
    be discarded. What is really behind the gun control issue is the fear
    that the guns are going to be turned on the leaders committing the
    crimes. We have had gun violence in
    Baltimore for decades with as high as 300 people a year being killed as
    poverty grew. Weapons manufacturers were allowed to reap huge profits as
    long as the poor and working class were killing themselves. Now, as
    wealth inequity and Rule of Law has disappeared we know that the
    violence will spread and plans for rebellion will grow……AND THAT IS
    TOWARDS WHAT THIS GUN CONTROL IS DIRECTED. No doubt we want gun
    control……getting military weapons off the streets and away from the
    public is a good thing. You simply do not want to do that in the middle
    of a government coup when American citizens are being preyed upon by
    corporations and their pols!

    As I watch the go to guy Webster
    lament that the criminalizing rules of the gun control law were not
    passed and that the existing laws will probably be overturned in the
    Supreme Court……I AM TELLING DANIEL WEBSTER THAT THE PROBLEM IS THE
    ‘BAD GUYS AT THE TOP OF THE INCOME LADDER’!

    After decades of public policy predatory on the working class and poor in the city we see the deepest broadest poverty with social resources cut making people resort to crime and violence. The corporations are defrauding everyone and especially low-income people and the government is complicit at all levels ……

    National Press Club
    to Host “NEWSMAKER” Media Briefing on Reducing Gun Violence in America
    with Daniel Webster, Director of Center for Gun Policy and Research,
    Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

    The Baltimore
    City Council is very pleased that Chief Batts will bring in the FBI and
    State Police to stop this violence of people simply outraged over the
    direction of development and plans for the city. Never once does anyone
    in the police department or City Hall mention the public policy and the
    suspended Rule of Law that creates this mess.

    CITY HALL AND THE MARYLAND ASSEMBLY TIED TO THE SUSPENSION OF RULE OF LAW IS THE PROBLEM……

    • davethesuave

      hmm. where to begin. it is possible, just possible, that you may be over-thinking this a bit. you seem to be saying that the “bad guys at the top of the ladder” are entirely to blame for the shootings that occur in the streets of Baltimore. all due respect, i can see why someone would think that outlook is a convenient excuse for people murdering each other. logically, it would make more sense for those who kill to direct their aim at the “bad guys at the top”, by which i suppose you mean the capitalist pigs who control the minds of the huddled masses, if indeed they are the sole cause of the misery. but if you’re going to target the ultra-rich why not start with the multimillionaire rappers who, in some cases, promote the very lack of civility you decry. if i read you right.

      you also seem to pin the donkey tail of poverty on the predatory public policies. but aren’t those policies enacted by the politicians some of elect to “lead” us? if that is even somewhat true, would it not make more sense to target those politicians? and would it not make more logical sense for the powers-that-be to ensure that kids go to school, and graduate, so they can become cogs in the military/industrial/corporate machinery?

      i propose that in the majority of cases, what deepens poverty, escalates crime, and results in violence is [a] personal choice, based on [b] childhood experiences during the formative years of ones life. if all one ever sees growing up are perfectly able-bodied young men NEVER WORKING, hanging around, dealing drugs, defending turf, and getting rich or dying trying, guess what? that’s what is the main influence in their outlook on life, and death, and whatever happens in between. but if i understand you, you would rather blame Donald Trump than point any finger at a source of the trouble much closer to home, namely the near-total abdication, in certain neighborhoods in this and every other big city in the nation, of the responsibility that should rightly fall upon the baby-makers who are really no more or less than unfit “parents”.

      i am no fan of City Hall, as anyone who reads my rantings knows. but to blame City Hall, and Annapolis for the failings of the disinterestedly over-sexed, willfully under-educated, and woefully unqualified people who pass themselves off as parents seems a little stupid. at some point, the “suffering poor” among us should gaze into the mirrors of their psyches and come to grips with the fact that kids learn what they live, and you can’t blame the Mayor for that.

      or is it possible i am under-thinking this? hmm.

    • Barnadine_the_Pirate

      We get the government we deserve. The 1% aren’t criminals; they pass the laws that ensure this. You can rant and wail all you want, but the people in office are in office because they got the most votes.
      (Except in North Carolina).

    • River Mud

      If you think for one moment that the criminals on the streets of this City will be impacted in any meaningful way by the Pretend Gun Control Law of 2013, well, good luck with that. Lawmakers rejected all overtures to increase prison terms for gun crimes and/or prevent parole for gun crimes (for which recidivism is roughly 75%). Yet, it will make it nearly impossible for a legal citizen homeowner to purchase a gun to defend him or herself in their own home. Gun control laws don’t apply to millionaire criminals whose operation depends on the ever present threat of gun violence. See: Washington, DC. See: Chicago.

  • Whiskers

    The city needs to get the kids. Open the PAL centers and give them a play to go where they can get some positive influence, otherwise, they are going down the same path to Central Booking. Sure, it will cost the city money, but putting band aids on violent crime is a waste of money. Unfortunately that does not make good politics. Those in office are trying to appease the citizens by telling them they’re increasing patrols in an effort to get some new, lower crime stats – a band-aid. This is not an end-all solution, but it’ll help save some kids, who will grow up to be responsible men and women, who may help another kid.

    • Matthew Riesner

      I disagree, the city doesn’t need to find the kids something to do, the kids need to find some work ethic and apply for low skilled employment in places where their boss will keep the whip to their back. Most of the kids that get into trouble are old enough to be holding their first job. Instead of running the streets, they can be washing some dishes, taking out some trash, or assisting customers. I grew up in Baltimore City, that’s what I did and it kept me from hanging out with people who were trouble.

      • Jerry

        “where their boss will keep the whip to their back” Sounds like a return to slavery. Sure hope you do not live in Baltimore.

        • Matthew Riesner

          It’s a old saying regarding driving people work hard…these days it has nothing to do with slavery and everything to do with building work ethic, hard labor, and applying themselves…something I’ve seen many kids seem to lack lately (I guess they think they should be cushy, excuse filled job, without as much as breaking a sweat, when they first join the labor market)

  • Andrew

    Right on, Matthew. No city owes kids anything beyond a good school system during normal hours, 8-3. The kids find money for motorcycles! When I was their age, I had a lawnmower and made many hundreds of dollars at $5 a lawn. Snowshoveling, farm work and gardening added to that mix got me money for studies. All the other kids did likewise to a degree. The only people who can enforce anything with kids are the parents. It’s not a nuanced combination of “everybody working together”. Nope, it’s the parents.

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