Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Baltimore Fails Its Citizens

Baltimore Fails Its Citizens
Al Ritter 

Baltimore is my city; I have lived within 10 miles of the city limits all my life. I have watched the riots of 1968, and I have watched the blight of urban decay increase for the last 40+ years. I have watched as the population has dwindled from a high of 930,000 in 1950 to 622,000 in 2014, a low that Baltimore hasn’t seen since 1915! In 1968 the Black population stood at 46% while in 2015 that percentage has increased to 63%.
To Baltimore’s credit the Black Leadership has followed the trend of the increasing Black population. Unfortunately other trends have increased also. Poverty has increased, drug use has increased, and the Black incarceration rate has also increased. Is this a nationwide trend or are there other problems that fuel the racial divide in America?
In 1967 the political climate was changing rapidly and Maryland as a whole was morphing from red into blue. Spiro Agnew was the last Republican Governor of any significance as the winds of change blew into Baltimore. Clarence “Du” Burns was the first Black elected Mayor of Baltimore in 1987 followed by 3 more. All Mayors of Baltimore since 1967 have been Democrats. Six of the last eight Governors have been Democrats since 1967.
Democratic strongholds in major US Cities have historically shown declines in both population, and available jobs, in similar periods and Baltimore is no exception.
We watched last night as rioters lit up Baltimore’s skies in retaliation for the questionable death of Freddie Gray. This was a man arrested a week earlier and died in Police custody of a broken spine and crushed voice box. Protests were held the day before his burial but turned into violence before their end by what Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake referred to as an “outside influence.” She also stated at that time that they wish to give those people a voice to express their concerns and first amendment rights. However a follow up to that statement is where things have turned this city into a pressure cooker. She stated that she wanted to “give those people who wished to destroy room to do so.”  “Outside influences” as the Mayor termed it should be held in the same regard as “inside influences” they are both law enforcement issues, and arrests should be made accordingly regardless of where they are from.
I see many problems in her attempts to control her city. #1 we watched the City of North Charleston SC handle what could have been an equally horrible situation. Where Walter Scott was shot in the back while running from a Police Officer, and was caught on an amateur video. Racial tensions were handled quickly and efficiently, as the officer was fired immediately and murder charges were brought against him. Unfortunately Baltimore City has not been as forth coming as to its investigation of Mr. Gray’s death. The only thing that has been announced is the cause of death, and nothing else has followed. #2 The Mayor has blatantly fanned the flames and allowed the rioters to vent their frustration on property before calling out the National Guard last evening about 6 PM. #3 Her inability to control the situation has led to the additional looting and destruction which I see was caused by her own personal vanity.
This can’t be considered as racial rioting, because the Mayor and her team are all Black, the Police Commissioner, and the majority of the City Council is all Black, so this isn’t about COLOR. This is about the inability of Democrats' to run a City effectively; it’s about poor decisions from an inexperienced person in charge. This is about not keeping the public informed on a Police shooting that ended badly and has touched off a powder keg of distrust.
Governor Hogan has waited patiently for the Mayor to admit the situation is out of control. She finally admitted that last night by requesting the National Guard, but then in two moves equally puzzling she held off mandatory curfew until this evening the 28th, and she closed the City School System knowing that most of the damage yesterday afternoon was done by students. So today the students will be hanging around the streets waiting for new trouble to start and won’t be subject to the curfew until 10 PM this evening.
Last night Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake also stated she welcomes Rev Al Sharpton into her town to participate in additional protests. The mistakes this mayor has made in the last week are monumental, and the responsibility rests entirely on HER shoulders. All of these situations could have been curtailed by a person who could have nipped these protests turned riots in the bud, and informed the community what actions were being taken in the investigation into Freddie Gray’s death. I might add that as of right now they still haven’t said anything about it……..and this is along with Al Sharpton’s arrival is a recipe for further disaster.


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