Monday, April 27, 2015
Chaos and Anarchy in Charm City
Chaos and Anarchy in Charm City
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
April 27, 2015
Charm City isn’t so charming these days. As of 6:30 this evening the Baltimore Orioles game against the Chicago White Sox at Camden Yards had been postponed – and not because of inclement weather – but because of civil unrest not seen in the city since 1968.
Baltimore is rife with rioting, looting, destruction of public and private property that has overflowed from an impoverished portion of the western part of the city to the downtown tourist-heavy Inner Harbor/Oriole Park area. This includes throwing rocks, bottles, and bricks at police officers as well as setting patrol cars ablaze. At least 15 Baltimore police officers have been injured some with broken bones as a result of the attacks by rioting thugs.
It should be noted that the three biggest gangs in Baltimore put the police on notice that they have united for the purposes of “taking out” law enforcement, and the men and women in blue are taking that threat seriously.
While the advent of the rioting and violence can be ascribed to the April 19 death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, possibly at the hands of police – and still under investigation, there is no excuse for this recalcitrant behavior. Under the guise of supposed peaceful protesting, the thug-laden crowd had nothing but criminal behavior in mind and deed.
Police-attributed deaths of black suspects have been in the news with added attention since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. The Justice Department ruled police were not criminally responsible for Brown’s death. Yet, Ferguson, as part of Baltimore is today, is reminiscent of Watts, Oakland, and Newark of the 1960s.
Gray, who ran from police, unprovoked, was eventually captured, loaded in a police van, and placed in custody on April 12. Due to a still under investigation severed spinal cord, Gray died on April 19. Gray supposedly fled police because of a history involved with drugs and was in a drug-infested neighborhood at the time of his encounter with police. The six officers who had Gray in custody have been suspended with pay.
Due to the intractable behavior of the thugs burning down their own neighborhoods and looting a local mall – Mondawmin, numerous businesses closed their doors and the University of Maryland, Baltimore suspended all campus activities early in the afternoon. Not only does this criminal activity not solve any of the problems, it both creates more problems and costs the protesters any sympathy they may have accrued due to the questionable death of Gray.
Adding fuel to the fire, the mayor of the city must certainly claim a great portion of the responsibility for spurring on the miscreants. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who I knew when she was just Rawlings and a member of the City Council (for which I once ran when I lived there), should either be recalled or impeached for inciting the spreading riot.
“We also give those who wished to destroy, space to do that,” said Rawlings-Blake, in commenting on the activities of protesters and the expected spillover. She later denied ever saying those words and chastised the media for reporting that she had. (http://fusion.net/story/126587/the-odd-tactic-of-giving-baltimore-protesters-space-to-destroy-property/)
That has to be one of the most irresponsible statements a person could make. By not condemning the rioting and rioters, Rawlings-Blake did more than give tacit approval; she practically endorsed it with her reckless comments. For this, she needs to be relieved of her duties. She also needs to be taken to task for not instituting a curfew immediately instead of one to commence tomorrow night, Tuesday, April 28.
The postponement of the Orioles-White Sox game is not just a disappointment to fans, but costly, to the tune of several million dollars lost in revenue for street vendors outside the stadium, the vendors inside Camden Yards, the surrounding restaurants and bars, as well as local hoteliers who count on post-game check-ins, and the numerous people who rely upon tips for a large portion of their incomes.
I lived in Baltimore at one time, and there are some marvelous parts of the city – the Inner Harbor, Fells Point, Charles Street, and Lexington Market are perhaps most notable, and there are also some parts of the city that make hell resemble the Garden of Eden. The empty, dilapidated so-called housing units and storefronts should be razed and the gang members jailed.
Taxpayer money should not be used to rebuild these neighborhoods and rental units should not be erected. The residents should rebuild and police their own neighborhoods with enterprise zones as envisioned by the late Jack Kemp, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Ronald Reagan.
Kemp, also a former Congressman and Buffalo Bills quarterback, believed that ownership was the key to success. People take pride in owning their home, car, business, etc. People historically do not take appropriate care of rental property and enterprise zones are designed to give people opportunities with the responsibility of turning those opportunities into success with as little government involvement as possible.
As for the burned out businesses, local or national chains such as the CVS, they should not be rebuilt in these neighborhoods. Locals have destroyed their own neighborhoods and must suffer the consequences. Why would any business want to invest in such a neighborhood? Police have backed away from the immediate action perhaps for their own safety, perhaps under orders.
A member of the Baltimore City Council claims a lack of opportunities and racism is why the tumult has occurred. Where’s the racism in a city run by a black mayor, a black city council president, a majority black city council, and a black police chief with a minority majority police force? The reality is, opportunities are not created when people burn down their own neighborhoods and rob their own stores. Opportunities are not created when students choose to shun the education given to them in schools by dedicated teachers. I know; I taught in the Baltimore Public Schools at one time. Ironically, the Baltimore public schools will be closed tomorrow, Tuesday, April 28 – yet one more day when the education of the city’s children is surrendered to violence and thugery.
Poor leadership by those in charge of Baltimore and a paucity of education of the young people in Baltimore lead to an unhealthy future for Charm City. The firestorm in this city was easily predicted, but begs the question of why do such riots and destruction of property and criminal activity keep occurring in majority black locales? Where are the role models outside of gangs and the rap music industry? More Clarence Thomases and Ben Carsons are needed. More Alveda Kings and Deneen Borellis are needed. More Allen Wests and Tim Scotts are needed. Don't know who they are? Look them up.
These malevolent thugs are simply committing acts of mayhem for mayhem’s purpose. Until law and order is restored; until discipline is instituted in the homes and the schools; until animalistic behavior is reined in, Baltimore will cease to be Charm City and sadly be dubbed Harm City. It’s time for serious change and it starts in the homes, churches, schools, and grass roots neighborhoods where youths, adults, and law enforcement can dialogue peacefully.
Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. In the late 1990s he lived in Baltimore, taught in the Baltimore City Public Schools, and ran for the City Council – unsuccessfully.