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April 30, 2015

A Conundrum, Maze of Facts

Harry M. Covert

Lip service has been spewing non-stop out of Baltimore the past week or so. It is likely to continue full blast, so let us contribute further as to the declared emergency.

At the risk of some cynicism and sarcasm, the exercises have captured national and worldwide interest. All of the difficulties can be described as a conundrum.

Further, the west Baltimore troubles are truly a maze of fact, some fiction and perhaps without a lasting resolution. This is troubling, still hopeless for the majority of the inhabitants but worth trying to smooth out living in poverty, depravity and all that goes with this.

Rather startling for others has been the inclusion of gangs known for their criminal activities in with faith and church leaders and other community organizers. Let’s point out names of the gangs – the Crips, the Bloods and the Black Guerilla Family. Don’t be shy. Imagine their known criminal mischief – drug dealing, reported murders and threats.

Doubters as to the quandaries brought on by the above “thugs” need only question local and state law enforcement, prosecutors and jail and prison officials, including corrections officers. Their conduct is eerie, scary and dangerous.

There is a point to discussing the dilemmas facing Baltimore’s police face.

For the record, there have been 69 murders within the city limits to date. Last year Baltimore’s homicide detectives were caught up in 233 killings. A terrible total that ranks Maryland’s largest city No. 6 as the most dangerous in the nation. Official reports are that some 95 percent of the murders are black on black. Black lives do matter and the task is difficult to stop such lifestyles.

These figures have been acknowledged by the police commissioner. In no way do they excuse the death of Freddie Gray a few weeks ago. Neither do the totals justify the looting, arson of a $16 million church senior citizens facility under construction, or the robbing and burning of drug and liquor stores and other businesses.

Is there reason to wonder why major grocery stores are hesitant to operate in the community? No!

The Monday riots, and all that went with them, including the puncturing fire hoses, are horrifying. It was not the finest hour of people, young or old and neighborhoods that need economic help. How law enforcement endured the ceaseless taunts, rocks and bottle throwing and more than 20 policeman injured is beyond understanding.

Words are still coming about remaining hostility; out-of-control people; criminal justice reform; body cameras for police; death of civilians in police custody; the kids; the children; love lines; no respect; and general mayhem.

When “the community” loses control and its self-respect, everybody loses. The business community, tourist attractions, wonderful restaurants and everything lost lots of income, jobs and workers.

It is evident Baltimore’s mayor waited too long to ask for state help. It is disgraceful that police weren’t allowed to stop the vandalism, the robberies, the fires and destruction of police vehicles and other things. No matter the excuses, and there were many, the mayor faltered.

She appeared to ignore calls from the governor’s office in Annapolis. He emphasized readiness to declare an emergency. He activated 2,000 members of the National Guard and sent 40-some State Police to bolster city police. Regardless, better late than never, of course; and finally 5,000 police and sheriff’s deputies were called upon from all over Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

Frederick County’s 30-member mobile unit was sent to help out too. They acquitted themselves well and played a part in protecting lives, limbs and buildings.

“Baltimore Burning 2015” will be long remembered. To be certain the events are not over. Maybe peace will result and solutions found with the daily curfew, cooler heads and the calming and over-whelming presence of the state’s “soldiers” and numerous police agencies.


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