Baltimore is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. The Rundown reported that the city has the inauspicious honor of recording its 300th murder of the year. The Rundown also stated that in 2015, residents have seen the homicide rate climb, having increased by 80 percent. Such numbers have not been seen since 1999.
The city captured the nation’s attention in April 2015, when protests erupted over the death of Freddie Gray while he was in police custody. An uptick in violence has prompted many to speak out against current policies that are blamed for creating a subculture of violence. University of Baltimore President Kurt L. Schmoke tells The Baltimore Sun that the first step in slowing the trend of violence will be to decriminalize marijuana as well as increase the opportunities for employment. Schmoke believes that by attacking the drug trade, in combination with encouraging witnesses to come forward with information, the community could begin to take back their city one neighborhood at a time.
Of the reported homicides occurring in Baltimore this year, less than a third of them are solved. Liz Copeland, a political commentator, tells The Baltimore Sun that the people of Baltimore do not have confidence that the police are able to be effective in stopping crime. With the clearance rate for homicides at dismal levels, residents are unwilling to act in support of law enforcement agencies. Copeland also stated that disillusionment and an overall feeling of desperation are creating an environment where citizens are reacting to events as they surface rather than participating via long-range solutions. Copeland attributes these feelings as being contributing factors in Baltimore quickly becoming one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. by year’s end.
The Baltimore Sun reports that an independent review of the Baltimore unrest found significant deficiencies were present. Identified as primary issues were that top decision makers were in disarray. Moreover, the roles were not clearly defined. Also, complicating the situation was a chaotic environment that lacked the equipment required for the effective deployment of resources. In the end, over 56 recommendations were made to police officials, so that there will not be a repeat of the events from last April.
In an official statement made by Police Chief Kevin Davis to Fox 45 News, Davis cautioned that the city needs to pause rather than impulsively react to news of the 300th homicide. Poverty, unemployment, poor education, drug addiction, housing, as well as police-community relations, all play a role in what they are seeing. Davis expressed confidence that this moment will pass and become a distant memory as each issue is addressed.
Evidence that Davis may be accurate in his optimism is the increased interest in the city’s citizenry in being politically involved. Representing individuals from diverse walks of life, many first-time candidates have filed their intentions to enter the mayoral race in 2016. Of those who have expressed their intentions to run, some of the candidates include politicians, a bar owner, and a crime victim. The Baltimore Sun reports that the latest entry into the mayoral race is popular community organizer Joshua Harris. Co-founder of Hollins Creative Peacemaking, Hollins has been intimately involved with a movement to revitalize the city through urban renewal projects. Hollins, in his announcement to run for mayor, said that in order to revive the city, all of its citizens must act in changing a culture that discourages the idea of a brighter future. As the year comes to a close, Baltimore is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. Whether things worsen before improving remains to be seen.
By Garrett Sayers
Edited by Leigh Haugh
The Rundown: Baltimore Reaches Grim Milestone With 300 Murdered This Year
The Baltimore Sun: Schmoke – Subculture of Violence to Blame for 300 Killings
Fox 45 News: Man Fatally Stabbed in Southwest Baltimore Marks 300th Homicide
The Baltimore Sun: Report Details Major Shortcomings in Baltimore Police Response to Unrest
Image Courtesy of Paul’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License