Residents call mayoral response on crime “dismissive”

Police Commissioner Batts, the Mayor and hundreds of residents meet to discuss the Southeast crime spike – and the city's response to it

highlandtown canton 1

SRO crowd packs the Breath of God Lutheran Church to hear the mayor and police commissioner discuss the recent Southeast Baltimore crime wave.

Photo by: Fern Shen

Southeast Baltimore residents who packed a Highlandtown church last night to confront the mayor and police commissioner about a violent crime wave in their community – and perceived official indifference about it – met conditions that seemed to confirm their suspicions.

The sound system didn’t work and about half the crowd of about 450 – packed into overflow space in the basement or left to stand outside – couldn’t hear a thing. (A separate group of police officials was sent down to talk with the basement crowd.)

At the start of the meeting, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake addressed the public perceptions about her attitude head-on, saying her recent remarks had been misunderstood and she was not trying to “blame” the community for lack of involvement in efforts to prevent and combat crime. “That wasn’t my intention.”

But she did suggest where to lay the blame for this misperception: social media. And it was Twitter she called out in particular, even though her remarks were reported and discussed in platforms that allowed for lengthy commentary and dialogue (Facebook and Medium, for example).

“I know how [things] can be twisted in 140 characters,” she said.

A Community Vents

It was the opening salvo in a two hour-long meeting at the Breath of God Lutheran Church, organized by Del. Luke Clippinger and headlined by the Rawlings-Blake, Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts and his top brass.

In attendance were an assortment of fire, police and cabinet officials, four city councilmembers, at least three political candidates and a standing-room-only crowd of residents from Canton, Highlandtown, Patterson Park and across Southeast Baltimore.

Many in the crowd readily shared their frustration to a reporter.

“I fell in love with this city. I pay ridiculous property taxes and was happy to do so,” said a woman who described the aftermath of a daytime hold-up at a Canton pizzeria recently and of being mugged by juveniles six years ago.

Her plan is to move soon. “I went to cop walks and community meetings and feel like a lot of that was hot air.”

It wasn’t just the recent sharp spike in Southeast District crime they spoke about, but a city government that fails to respond to complaints about a civic malaise that ranges from litter and blight to home invasions and murder.

“An Epidemic of Complacency”

One woman began by talking about 311, noting that it might seem off topic, but isn’t.

“Our street’s a mess, our alley’s a mess. It looks like a thrift shop. We’ve got trash and rats. . . We’re constantly calling 311. Nothing changes,” she said, describing people who drive up in SUV’s, dropping bags of fast-food trash out their windows. “It doesn’t matter how many times you have a community cleanup, how many times we clean up our tree pit.”

“You litter. Then you light a dog on fire. Then you bludgeon a person to death. Bash someone on the head with a brick. You rape someone. You kill someone. It’s all related because it’s a lack of respect of your environment of your fellow man and I want to know what are you – how can we do something about it?”

She said the city has been no help with the trash and many other problems, including “a house next door to us with illegal daycare, multiple un-zoned dwelling units, drug deals happening through the basement window.”

“We call and call and call and nothing happens. Nothing happens with the police and nothing happens with 311,” she said. “It’s an epidemic of complacency.”

Rawlings-Blake told her, “We’re all frustrated.”

The mayor directed a staffer to talk to her about neighborhood problems and said she wished when she took her oath that “I got a magic wand” that could make people treat each other with respect.

Baltimore’s jump in homicides in 2013 defies national trends (1/2/14)
ANALYSIS: Policing and crime in the Batts era (1/2/14)
Police say they’re trying to reduce the homicide count (1/7/14)
“Bloody January” ends with 26th homicide in Highlandtown (2/1/14)
Carnage in the streets fuels soul-searching (and conflict) on the page (2/7/14)
Crime spree: 1 in 5 violent crimes reported last month in Southeast Police District (2/10/14)
Mayor says citizens can be part of the solution or part of the problem in curbing violence (2/10/14)
Police expand special enforcement zones to curb violence (2/11/14)

Police Commissioner: “I Apologize”

Batts got big applause by starting off with an apology to residents “because some of the things that are taking place in this community should not be happening.”

“I am embarrassed. . . In the fact that we have to come here in this meeting to address these things,” he said, walking up and down the center aisle of the church, promising more meetings and to be “open, honest and transparent.”

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts apologized to the crowd: "We have to do better." (Photo by Fern Shen)

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts apologized to the crowd: “We have to do better.” (Photo by Fern Shen)

He acknowledged the incident that perhaps most galvanized the community,  the murder of a 51-year-old bartender in her Ellwood Avenue home two weeks ago.

“My heart is broken from having the loss of life of Miss Kim Leto. . . People loved her, her neighbors are here.”

To a question about whether police would be stepping up patrols in the area, Bats said yes, they would continue to, adding that he gives this attention to any neighborhood in the city experiencing a crime spike.

Acting Southeast District Commander Deron Garrity promised that officers would be getting out of their cars more. “I hear that time and again – when police arrive, they’re like robots,” he said.

Batts said that his department ranks extremely low in citizen surveys on interactions with the community. He said he planned to “pay overtime” to have officers “sit down in a circle” with community members and “see there’s a lot of good people there.”

As for what has been causing the crime in the Highlandtown and Canton ares, Batts said that some neighborhoods were “being overrun by juveniles. . . in their school uniforms,” burglarizing homes before and after school hours.

Batts said police are combating the problem with undercover surveillance, and he and Rawlings-Blake both talked about the expansion of a juvenile curfew center. They also announced the number to report truants to school police – 410-396-8588.

“Blame Game”

There were a number of specific issues raised at the meeting.

They ranged from lack of translators causing the under-reporting of crime by Spanish-speaking people (Batts said the city needs more of them) to criminals back out on the street with seemingly no punishment (“Where’s Bernstein?” a man shouted repeatedly from the crowd.)

A March meeting is planned with City State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein.

What about preventing crime by working with kids to keep them on the right path?

Rawlings-Blake said she was moved by the sight of 6- and 7-year-olds showing up at the summer curfew center at 1 in the morning. “What must be going on in their lives – or not going on – for that to happen?” she said.

Meeting organizers were ready with resources, pointing to representatives of a number youth-oriented organizations on hand to sign up volunteers.

But several in the audience wanted to return to the issue of the mayor’s remarks suggesting irritation with online discussion about the crime wave and calling for critics to take more responsibility.

“There is a very, very strong perception, at least among some of us, that you and your administration are incredibly dismissive of feedback from the community and I think the way you talk about social media certainly contributes to that,” said Cory McCarty of Butcher’s Hill.

“Because there a lot of very good conversations from very well meaning people on social media,” he added.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she is "frustrated" by the persistent crime wave. (Photo by Fern Shen)

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she is “frustrated” by the persistent crime wave. (Photo by Fern Shen)

Rawlings-Blake and another audience member went back and forth on the subject, with the man saying if his clients heard him say he was “frustrated” by his inability to engage meaningfully with them, “They would fire me.”

“If this community hadn’t been so up-in-arms, when would you have called this meeting?” he said to applause.

Batts jumped in to shoulder the blame. “Calling the meeting shouldn’t be the mayor’s responsibility,” he said. “It should be my responsibility.”

What the Mayor Had to Offer

McCarty asked the mayor what she was going to do “to address the perception” of her administration’s indifference to the public. Several other audience members politely offered her the opportunity to do so.

One of the first questioners, for example, was a woman who said she is active and involved in her neighborhood and reports problems and suspicious activity when she sees any.

“The mayor mentioned as to how we can be more engaged,” she said. “I’m willing,” she continued, but asked Rawlings-Blake what else could she do?

The mayor began her answer by talking about how her administration is implementing technology to allow officers to spend more time on the street. She specifically mentioned ShotSpotter, which the city “will be introducing shortly” that is “state of the art” and “hooks up with our cameras and when there is a shot fired, trains the cameras to the activity.”

Circling a bit closer to the woman’s question, the mayor seemed to be telling her to do what she was already is doing.

“Sometimes the best way we get things solved is just by folks looking out the window and being vigilant and communicating when they see something that doesn’t look right,” Rawlings-Blake told her. “We have a Crime Watch number. . . You can turn in information anonymously.”

Rawlings-Blake ended by bemoaning one impediment to community participation: “We all know in some communities there are too many people with the stop snitching mentality.”

The woman’s second question, directed at Batts, suggested she was well beyond Crime Watch.

“I’m five months pregnant I have an 18 month-old daughter. I’ve been broken into once,” she said. “My husband travels for work so I’m concerned about the force I’m allowed to use if someone enters my home and I want to protect my children.

“What am I allowed to do in that situation? You can’t say to someone who breaks into your home, ‘Are you armed, am I allowed to shoot you?'”

Batts’ reply:

“I want to make your external community safe, so you don’t have to buy a weapon.”

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  • Carol Ott

    Ahhh…gotcha. It’s social media’s fault.

    I was also a little dismayed to hear from residents that a couple of folks were using this community meeting as an opportunity to hand out campaign literature. Folks who do not live in that part of town and have no reason for being there, other than to be crass. Don’t think for one minute those residents, whose concerns were the agenda and not your pie-in-the-sky campaign, didn’t notice. They did notice, and they vote, but probably not for you. Shame on you!

    • mttwls

      The only one I saw handing out campaign lit was Nick Mosby, who was handing out a flyer for his wife’s campaign for prosecutor. Mosby was most welcome there, since part of Highlandtown is in his district, and would have been welcome even if his district was the other side of the city.

      And given the audience’s response to the question about why juvenile delinquents are so seldom punished, I’d say Marilyn Mosby might find a receptive audience in the Southeast for her bid to unseat the incumbent. SRB may not be the most popular person in this part of town at the moment, but she’s the Queen of Southeast compared to what people think of Bernstein. I’m looking forward to that meeting in March with him.

      • Carol Ott

        What part of Highlandtown is in District 7? You may want to consult a map before answering.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Wrong! Brandon Scott represents part of Highlandtown, not Nick Mosby.

        • mttwls

          Oh, yeah, that’s right. The point still stands, though — any city councilman from any part of the city would have been welcome to attend. And Bernstein won’t be getting many votes out of the Southeast.

          • dennisthecynic

            I generally agree with the point that any politician is welcome. But it is clear that the Mosbys’ MO was just to get attention for themselves. It is shameful and part of the reason Baltimore is in the mess that it’s in. Decades of self serving politicians have made this city a shell of what it could be.

          • mttwls

            ‘Crass’ and ‘shameful’ to hand out campaign lit outside a town hall meeting about crime? I’m sure Bernstein and his campaign staff think so. At worst it’s just opportunistic. At best it’s smart campaigning.

          • Rusty Shackleford

            Do you realize that this meeting was held in response to a resident being murdered in her own home? Why don’t they just stand outside the murder victim’s funeral and pass out campaign lit to her friends and family?

          • Carol Ott

            It was a meeting convened because a woman was murdered — it wasn’t a simple community meeting. Good grief — I can’t believe you don’t see how tacky this was. Coming to this meeting for the sole purpose of handing out campaign literature is like trying to sell someone a used car at their granny’s funeral.

          • dennisthecynic

            Probably more the former than the latter. But that’s to be expected based off of Marilyn Mosby’s conduct to date. Just a shame.

          • Carol Ott

            Welcome, maybe. But they were there to hand out campaign literature, and more than a few neighbors were upset. It was crass, plain and simple.

          • Rusty Shackleford

            Given the choice between Bernstein and a former employee of Pat Jessamy’s (Marilyn Mosby), I think the SE voters will prove your prediction wrong.

          • River Mud

            Yeah, Bernstein’s follies aside, I most certainly hope that a resurgence of Pat Jessamy’s way of thinking in City leadership will never come.

  • Andrew

    Not being able to communicate with the Police in an emergency seems like a good reason to learn English, not a good reason to hire spanish translators.

    • Cory McCarty

      That’s not a particularly useful observation. Whether you like it or not, we have a large hispanic community, and many of them don’t speak English. I would imagine that many of them would love to learn the language, but it’s a remarkably difficult language to learn, and learning it will take time. In the meantime, these people are still part of our community, and the police need to be able to serve them just like the rest of us. And that’s not just for their benefit. One of the good points the mayor keeps making (and I’m giving her credit for this despite my general dissatisfaction with her performance) is that the police and the city government need engagement from community members in order to address these issues. That means being able to communicate with as many members of the community as possible, regardless of how judgmental we want to get over spoken language.

  • ushanellore

    Mayoral Melodies

    Can’t have a meaningful discussion
    in 145 characters
    especially when you are accusing me
    of failing you in 145 ways–

    I am getting dizzy
    with the din and the pandemonium,
    I am feeling pulverized,
    like a car abandoned in Timonium–

    I am bitter you would pick Twitter
    to air your complaint,
    this city is not for the honest
    or for the faint–

    gird your loins and get ready
    to go out and face-
    a world that is tough–
    I didn’t make it this way–

    gird your loins and get ready
    to go out and face–
    the ready and the rough–
    I didn’t make it this way–

    at the curfew center
    the children they came–
    at 1 AM in the morning–
    I didn’t make it this way–

    as you’re surprised,
    I was surprised,
    that the children who came–
    wore no shoes on their feet,
    and without warning tweets–
    they stepped into our parlor
    and asked to take seats–

    and I in my clover and my soft suede–
    am hurt that you would fritter away–
    your time on Twitter’s silly array
    of useless kvetching in 145 ways–

    I’ll try to fix matters
    I promise you now
    but I can only do so much–
    I can’t lay a cow–

    The din and the pandemonium
    are striking me low,
    I am off to Timonium
    where my accountant will show
    that my money in Twitter
    will glitter and grow–
    in the meantime I want you to know–
    I didn’t make it this way….

    Usha Nellore

  • Cory McCarty

    I think one of the biggest problems with the mayor is that she doesn’t lead. Last night Commissioner Batts did exactly what a quality leader does: he stepped up, took responsibility, and apologized for the failures. Mayor Rawlings-Blake is quick to talk down to people she believes are assigning blame, but I’m not particularly interested in blame. What I am interested in is leaders who take responsibility for failures that occur on their watch. The distinction may be subtle, but it is critically important. And the mayor doesn’t seem to understand it. Which, among other things like her woefully poor communication skills, makes her an abysmal leader. I really wish she would recognize that she’s falling down in these areas because they really are things that she could fix if she set her mind to it.

    Another point worth noting is that while City Councilman Jim Kraft (1st District) was there, Councilman Warren Branch (13th District) and Councilman Brandon Scott (2nd District) both of whose council districts are at least partially in the Southeastern were conspicuously absent. I’m *so* glad my house was redistricted into the 13th less than a year after I bought it.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I agree with everything you said, but I thought I saw Brandon Scott at the meeting.

      • baltimorebrew

        Pretty sure I saw Councilman Scott as well. – f.s.

        • Cory McCarty

          In that case, my apologies to Councilman Scott. I’ll edit my comment to reflect his presence.

          • baltimorebrew

            No prob – it was a crush in there! – f.s.

      • Sean Tully

        Brandon Scott is the hole in a donut who thinks he will one day be mayor. He just might be.

    • mttwls

      SRB’s best moments last night were when she was talking about the kids who’ve been abandoned by their parents. That was a real person (and a real mom) talking. She just seems so robotic and oblivious when she gets into her talking points.

      And my god, when you say (a) and people hear (b), don’t visibly sigh and talk about how sad it is that people don’t hear (a). Because what people hear when you say that is that you think they’re wrong/dumb/whatever. Try saying (a) again in a way that people can understand better. This isn’t just Politics 101, it’s Communications 101.

    • krisnorthrup

      Cory, thank you so much for taking srb to task, she is an abysmal mayor, worst ever and extremely dismissive of the citizens, all of which you have pointed out.

    • Lindsay

      Ugh, agreed about Branch. He is so ineffective and just seems to have no clue. Cory – when’s he up for election? Can I nominate you?

      • Cory McCarty

        The next Baltimore City election is in 2016. It’s worth pointing out that in Baltimore the primary is usually far more important than the general election. Shannon Sneed, who ran against Branch last time, would be a much better choice than I would. I don’t know whether she’s planning to run again in 2016 or not, but I very much hope so.

  • trueheart4life

    Note to BMore: Get over it – CONTRITION – ain’t in her vocabulary! Her advisers and cabinet of out-of-towners) keep telling her she’s doing a great job … I wonder why?

  • BmoreFree

    Humility, passion, empathy and a straight forward manner – these are all qualities I would look for in a good mayor and, of which, Ms. Rawlings Blake has in short supply.

  • Sean Tully

    “Dismissive” is a perfect description of Rawlings-Blake. I think aloft is another good word for the good Mayor. She’s not a bad person or criminal, as far as I can tell, she just shouldn’t be mayor of a big city. She’d has the perfect temperament for the U. S. Senate where they deliberate on issues for a long time before acting.

    • River Mud

      I envision her, during a random press conference, suddenly breaking into song and singing, “Up, up and away, in my beautiful balloon,” whereafter she steps away from the podium and into a previously unseen hot air balloon with her cronies, and flies away never to return.

      • davethesuave

        i have what might be a better analogy: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, drifting skyward, unable to control the “levers of power”, yelling out “I don’t know how to control this thing, I never learned how!”, and yet still drifting ever higher; because that’s what politicians do in this city, and state, and country; they drift upwards, and We, the Citizenry are the ones on the ground, taking our eye off the ropes, and allowing them to float away, without any real consequences.
        We are the biggest part of the problem.
        I truly believe we all need to stare into the metaphorical mirror and realize that [a] we PUT these climbers into positions of great power, and [b] we support them as the “lesser (in many senses of That word) of 2 evils” because Gawd Forbid we should think outside our little political boxes, even as the evidence mounts that our favored pol is either detached or aloof or uncaring or keeping their eyes on a higher prize, or in the case of our current mayor, possibly all of the above.

        There’s nothing in that bag of goodies for Dorothy. She may as well surrender; or she/we could take a fresh approach next time she clicks her ruby slippers and finds herself in a voting booth. How about throwing them all out of the balloon? Let’s see how uncaring they are then.

      • ushanellore

        Dream on. The balloon may not only return it may land right on your green rooftop–if you have one of those–for a mayoral party.

    • Nacho Belvedere

      I think “marking time” is a more apt description. She’s made herself over and used the office to further establish connections; she’s gonna pull an O’Malley and use the job a steppingstone to something/someplace else. Unlike MO’M, however, it will be for her own personal enrichment rather than higher office. She could give a rat’s ass about the city.

  • Sean Tully

    p.s. Batts has got to go. He seems like a nice enough guy but it appears his strategy for fighting crime is to bumble from one murder scene to another.

  • davethesuave

    I appreciate your thoughts, Cory. But all the smooth talkin’ in the world is not going to get at the root of the problems this city, and many others face. Namely, the idea that we are being overwhelmed by societal decay beyond fixing barring a radical “Great Awakening”, and no, I don’t mean that in any religious sense.

  • janjamm

    I thought Batts’ performance was a cover-up for a kind of panic. He decided to just walk right into the spinning propeller and see if he survived. People admire and are impressed by that kind of bravado. But, I think it is a cover-up for a lack of ideas. He really doesn’t seem to have strategies or concrete plans. He kept pulling one police officer after another up to answer questions. Almost none of them provided real insight because they don’t have a plan to attach them to. And Batts clearly does not have the whole picture. He is running around putting out fires. Did he just discover, “We have to do better”? Did it take outrageous murder to get him to think about “doing better”? His presentation was haphazard, unconnected to a central plan or understanding. Is our police force just sick and tired, and out of ideas?

    The Mayor, on the other hand, seems unsure of herself, hurt and consequently, defensive. She seems to lack the people skills so essential to a political life. She comes in a side door, does not engage with the crowd, leaves by the same side door. I was trying to imagine Bill Clinton, whatever I may think of him, not walking into even a potentially hostile crowd, and shaking hands and talking face-to-face and just engaging the crowd. She spent most of her time writing something. She should have been looking at whomever was speaking or the audience. Her staff members were often on the stage in the background yakking away as she spoke as if the meeting was (yawn) just another meeting. I found that startling. It may have been just another meeting for them, but it undermines the import of the meeting.

    What I wanted from the meeting were clear strategies from both Batts and the Mayor. “We hear you loud and clear. We’re on it. Here’s what we are going to do,” and list those strategies – A, B, C. The “we-want-to-listen-to-you is comforting and cathartic for everyone. But, if social media has done anything it has CLEARLY provided the salient concerns of citizens about crime and the administration’s lack of response to repeated outcries and complaints. Then I wanted them to say, “Give us 90-days. If you don’t see a marked improvement, fire us.” Put some heat under a lot of people. Require some accountability, time frames, passion for solutions, world-class policing. Coordinate all the institutions of the city on this effort. Leadership. This administration is being dragged around by these issues. They should be in front, barking out orders. We could be cheering them on.

    • ushanellore

      May be davethesuave is right–may be they sense a societal decay out of their grasp and beyond their ability to fix. If they’ve given up they shouldn’t be in their jobs. Yet we do not have immediate substitutes for them.

      Or may be they are in way over their heads. They’ve seen the children who came to the curfew center. I believe this was a shock to their systems. The enormity of it all stumps them. Think about it–the govt.’s role as a parent and protector of these abandoned, neglected and troubled children and the govt.’s role as the protector of the people– the victims and potential victims of these troubled children.

      The govt. cannot be all things to all people. Hence its defensive posture and its diffident face to the public. When govts substitute for families we have chaos. SRB is simply telling us that the children of Baltimore are not her fault. She is self conscious and baffled by citizen anger and bitterness. Batts knows his police department is afraid to engage these anarchic children.

      Are these children beyond redemption? Are the two teens who killed Kim Leto beyond redemption? How many such children live in Baltimore and should and can the police put them all away?

      If govt. is forced to be a parent then the social programs should aim at the very young and that is where the passion should be invested. Even then the results may be spotty because if the children return to their ghastly neighborhoods, their gangs or their abusive and stressed parents–victims of chronic poverty and abuse themselves–then interventionist programs however passionate, bracing and well meaning will fail.

      We are at an impasse about the children of Baltimore. We certainly can save some of them from themselves and their circumstances but we can’t save most of them. They will wreak their revenge and anger on us. It is not just our policing and our govt. that are inept. Parenting, education, discipline, moral standards, literacy, love of learning, scholarship, dedication and work ethic are all wanting or empty among many stressed out families for whom jobs, bread and butter and survival issues are number one.

      The social programs are neither well funded nor consistent. Yes, we are at an impasse and SRB and Batts are a sign of the times where Stepford children, brainwashed by gangs and drugs now have a good taste of the power that comes from running the asylum.

  • Matthew Riesner

    I wonder if the last police chief left because he didn’t want to be the mayor’s fall guy. This guy is really eating crow that should be directed at the mayor’s office and her blasé attitude regarding crime and her belief that Baltimorean are uneducated fools which seems to show itself when she is in a public situation by surrounded people who actually have an understanding of their situation regarding their surroundings. She still has the nerve to blame the problem on no snitching since she doesn’t want to tell a room full of middle class, tax paying residents, it’s because the city can’t keep it’s ghettos contained and the junkies away, the police generally don’t live in the city so therefore they don’t understand or care about the dynamic of the situation, that she doesn’t know what to do (and no consultants have given her any real useful information), and that there is no vision from her office of how to fix this problem in the long term.

  • ushanellore

    Bumbling in talk-no, but bumbling in action-yes. If he were another Inspector CIouseau at least he’d amuse. I am sure he’s looking forward to having enough time to earn his retirement.

  • petefrombaltimore

    The Mayor seems to view SE Baltimore residents as entitled and spoiled.which seems strange coming from a woman that was able to get into politics because her Father was an important politician.

    She never really seems to have learned how to interact with people. I myself am generally wary of the glad handing types of politicans. But SRB seems to go to the opposite extreme. And she is not good with dealing with criticism

  • petefrombaltimore

    I think that the main problem is that Baltimore’s leaders generally wont admit that Baltimore has problems. When crime,poverty or vacant housing is mentioned , they like to ignore those issues and just point out how nice the Inner Harbor. Their atitude seems to be,
    “Sure there are a few murders . But look how nice the Inner Harbor is. And how about them Ravens?”

    At least Detroit admits that it has problems

    For years, we have been told that its just a case of drug dealers killing drug dealers.But that has never been true. I own a small construction company in Highlandtown. And usually have about 6-10 employees. Back in December of 2010, two, out of eight of my employees were shot within the same month. One was shot while being robbed near his home. The other walked into the middle of an armed robbery in a corner store[he woke up in a hospital and didnt even remember what exactly happened] Both shootings happened in the area between Baltimore Street and Monument St . I myself live just south of Baltimore.And have had a murder on my block. A teen collapse from a gun shot on my [very small] block. And once saw a guy running down the street shooting at someone.And this is on a very small block off of Baltimore St

    Its pretty bad when a quarter of my employees had to be absent from work because of gunshot wounds [neither were drug addicts or criminals]

    SRB seems to view SE Baltimore residents as somehow spoiled and entitled. I think that we have the opposite problem. We actually take it for granted that people are shot daily on Baltimore streets. We take it for granted that people shoot heroin on our door steps. And many of us have gotten used to hearing about a friend or neighbor that ended up overdosing and dying

    Yet SRB seems to view us as spoiled just because we expect to not have our neighbors murdered? How low does she want us to set our expectations? I would think that not wanting our neighbors to be murdered is a pretty low expectation

  • Dbaums

    Agreed on the second point. Do we expect a police commissioner to cure Baltimore’s crime ills in 16 months? That’s ridiculous. Maybe the problem is with people (residents, officials, elected officials) thinking that implementing policy and effecting change can occur in such a short time frame.

  • Dbaums

    Define “U.S. culture.”

    • Andrew

      That would take a great deal of space, but in this context I can say this.
      -English as the common language that all of it’s groups historically assimilated in to for participation in the workplaces, educational institutions, mass entertainment and commerce. English is a given as a uniter. Hence the UNITED States.
      India has Hindi as a common language and English is an additional one for the educated class that wants to play with the rest of the world. Indians also have their local languages such as Tamil, Gujarati, etc. But Hindi united them from disparate states to the country we recognize now. Germany has Hoch Deutche as distinguished from the various dialects throughout that are thankfully preserved.
      I hope it isn’t hard for you to imagine regular folks of all income levels speaking two if not 3 or 4 languages with a reasonable mastery. We can expect that of ALL our immigrants while celebrating our diverse melting pot.

      • Dbaums

        My family came to Maryland from Germany in the 1790’s. They were poor (and probably illiterate) farmers. I can guarantee you that the first generation died speaking German and very little English. Their children likely grew up bilingual, and their grandchildren likely spoke only English. Yes, learning another language is “easier” now than it was in the 18th century, but my point is that assimilation occurs naturally, it’s not forced. Learning a second language is not easy. Also, where would one go to learn English as an adult? Those programs cost money, right? Typically a lot of money. And like most immigrant groups before and after them, today’s Hispanic immigrants are usually on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale, making money spent on English lessons less important than feeding and housing your family. The hurdles of learning to speak English have more to do with the lack of resources than some fictional group actively refusing to learn English. I couldn’t agree more with changing our culture to the point where we’d all be
        multilingual (it’s the biggest gift you could give to your children) but that’s a big shift.

        • Andrew

          Mine came in the 20th century as teens, penniless, and immediately busted their nuts to learn English and only kept the mother tongue as a fall-back at home. They practiced with neighbors informally and did crossword puzzles to learn English and people in my family entered the workforce at age 8 after going to parochial school during the day.They were adamant about adapting to their new life and not being outsiders. They succeeded in that their children did manage to gain a better life through a very strict upbringing and valuing what an education can offer. THAT’s the American dream, not just showing up and become in effect, parasites, a burden on other people. Hispanics are proud, ashamed of the ones who bring shame upon their community. High standards are something to be proud of. No need to lecture me about being multilingual, I speak five.

  • Michael

    Perhaps the governor should call up the National Guard to enforce a strict curfew in the worse areas of th city. Oh, but that wouldn’t look good politically.

More of the Daily Drip »

Below the Fold

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