Did elected officials anticipate that the recent DOJ Consent Decree would created a “Black Hawk Down” environment on the streets of Baltimore?
(BALTIMORE – June 10, 2017) – The following sentiments may be frowned upon by some. Some may thoroughly disagree with what I am about to say. I just ask that we look around and ask ourselves what is happening. Do we see a happy, healthy and vibrant city? Or, is it more like “Black Hawk Down” where the miscreants in the community are now on steroids?
Sure, it is still a wonderful thing to go down to the Inner Harbor and stroll the promenade. At the same time, there is a bold and shameless demeanor on these streets where too many crime-oriented individuals feel empowered. Instead of going to work or putting that energy into self-development, I see a Baltimore where far too many young men want to be “Scarface.”
Additionally, our young female criminals are not exempt. Too many young women are breaking law, too. It’s like the Wild, Wild West!
Fact: The recent Department of Justice Consent Decree for Baltimore City highlighting the historic concerns, issues, and challenges of the Baltimore Police Department and its relationship with the community – especially African Americans – was long overdue.
When I think of the more than 200 consecutive weeks of protest led by Tawanda Jones and the family of Tyrone West, I am truly thankful that progress has been made. Tyrone West was killed by Baltimore City Police and his sister is intent on bringing the “killer cops” responsible for his death to justice. Clearly, the Consent Decree is warranted.
I remember vividly how Baltimore officials, including its new mayor (Catherine Pugh), rushed to get this Consent Decree finalized before Pres. Barack Obama left office. There was a dire sense of urgency. Better yet, there was this overwhelming doubt that the new president, Donald John Trump, would be as gracious as the exiting Obama. Given the new president’s direction and actions thus far, I cannot argue with that logic one bit.
However, I wonder if our beloved elected officials anticipated the effects of this Consent Decree on our police officers, and ultimately, the citizens of Baltimore in the here and now.
Sure, there is a longstanding disdain, particularly among many blacks, for the Baltimore Police Department. After all, Freddie Gray – the 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody – brought on the first riot this city has seen in 47 years. While he had a lengthy criminal record, police victims like Tyrone West did not.
No one can forget what happened next after Gray’s funeral, either. The resulting Freddie Gray Uprising brought a gloom across this city that we will forever remember as our city became the epicenter of international media attention. No Baltimorean can forget, in addition, the day the six cops were charged. There was this sense of victory in the black community: a sigh of relief reminiscent of the ‘OJ Trial.’
Many people felt like some form of justice had prevailed. Few, however, believed that the officers allegedly responsible would ever get any time in prison. Others wondered how in the heck – for example – did State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby conveniently charge three black cops and three white cops. They also pondered whether she moved too expeditiously. Was it to garner the international media attention at-hand?
Nonetheless, we went with it. Why? We were angry. I might add that Mosby critics said that her job was not to stop the riots, but to prosecute the right people according to the law.
Fast forward to June 2017, and one may have to question whether or not this Consent Decree has gone too far to the left. Without a doubt, the Baltimore Police Department and its otherwise racist behavior over the years was exacerbated by the “Zero Tolerance” policy of former Mayor Martin O’Malley. It was the worst time ever in Baltimore for black people and I am still surprised the Democratic National Committee allowed him on the stage in the final debate of the last presidential election. I think his actions here in Baltimore were criminal and that he hardly reflects the so-called ideals of the party.
O’Malley’s push to lock up people for sitting on their steps was utterly ridiculous and eternally foul. That’s what we get for letting a lad from Montgomery County come to our city and take the helm of this otherwise beautiful metropolitan area. Cops back then were jumping out on everyday people for acts as petty as riding a bike on the sidewalk. That era reminded me personally of Nazi Germany. No human being on the planet – let alone in a civilized country – deserves to be treated as such. To say the least, O’Malley swung the pendulum too far to the right.
The effects of this Baltimore Consent Decree, on the other hand, have created an atmosphere on the streets that is far too liberal. Cops are handcuffed, increasingly more criminals are carrying guns and brazenly selling hard-core drugs in front of police without fear of retribution, and the resulting murder rate is through the roof.
Today, a basic visit to a home by police for domestic violence is being treated entirely different. Why? Cops now have to worry about a mob gathering outside the residence in question. Allegorically, our cops have taken a knee. If they go too “hard in the paint,” they fear losing their jobs and getting sued. If they go after young men on illegal dirt bikes, a nuisance to law-abiding folks, they have to worry about Fox 45 News reporting video footage from another dirt bike rider who suggested cops were overbearing.
I ask you: Have you ever seen a dirt bike rider crash and hit a person’s car and then run off, leaving the car owner with a dented side-panel that his insurance company will to have to cover – eventually resulting in a higher premium? I have.
Between our State’s Attorney’s questionable actions throughout the Freddie Gray period and this new Consent Decree, only God can save Baltimore. The case of one of the six officers, Sgt. Alicia White (who is black), really breaks my heart. While many people say “fuck the police”, Sgt. White is the last one anybody should fit into such a category. She loved and loves the community dearly. Yet, this State’s Attorney’s actions placed Sgt. White’s career in jeopardy and her life in shambles.
In the moment, I was as angry as the next guy; but, cop friends of mine pulled me to the side and schooled me. I am very grateful that they did. They would not let me go without information, and the truth is that Sgt. White exemplified the kind of cop that Lt. Violet Hill Whyte, herself, would be honored to know. Lt. Whyte was Baltimore City’s first black police officer and her reputation was impeccable. Lt. Whyte is evidence of why we need good, black cops. Do not forget that the black cop has a unique role: one of insuring that justice prevails in a heavily race-conscious America. Also, we cannot afford to forget the racism they endure from racist white cops who infiltrate the ranks.
Sgt. White was loved by her community, just like Lt. Whyte.
I don’t know if you have seen what I have seen lately, but crime is off the charts. Further, people can now blame the police if they want, but, we better be careful. As angry as we get at some police, we cannot afford to do a blanket statement on any group of people. Jerks come in all flavors, and in this case, all professions. And that is why I think we need to take a second look at this Consent Decree and what its present-day translation means.
I urge all Baltimore elected officials to revisit how to implement the DOJ’s recommendations for our police. As “unapologetically black” as I am, I refuse to ignore the facts. The truth is we are in a world of trouble. Unless leadership comes to grips with the reality, we are in store for the worst year ever.