Baltimore is riddled with wanton and brazen violence. Three shootings last Friday and Saturday boosted the city’s murder rate to 163 homicides this year alone. With homicides up more than 17 percent from last year, the city is on track to surpass 300 homicides for the seventh year in a row.
The Left has recently changed its tune on policy targeting crime amid a nationwide surge of violence. The problem is so prominent that leftist media outlets like CNN, the New York Times, and NBC News have all acknowledged its magnitude. In the wake of the undeniable violence, President Joe Biden proposed a crime reduction strategy last Wednesday, which, predictably, includes increasing gun control laws.
Sean Kennedy, a visiting fellow at the Maryland Public Policy Institute, said Saturday on Fox 45 News that Baltimore is “back on pace for its worst year on record.” He estimated that the current pace will eventually result in a total of 350 homicides.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison asserted the problem is all about behavior and how people interact with one another: “People have no conflict resolution skills thus are settling their conflicts with violence. And they will do it right there in the presence of police officers. Meaning, they don’t believe there will be consequences or there is no fear of consequences, which we have to change.”
The local business community in Baltimore is pleading for an immediate change. Earlier this month, 37 businesses in Fells Point, a downtown neighborhood, issued an open letter to Baltimore leaders demanding that they fulfill their duties or else the businesses will withhold taxes. The letter asked for more trash removal, actual enforcement of the laws, and police empowerment. The small businesses’ demands followed a weekend of violence in early June in which four people were shot, a woman was body-slammed, and brawlers defied police.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott supported decreasing funds to police during the mayoral election last year and said he wanted to “reimagine” the future of policing in the city this April. Scott said that he aimed to reallocate funds for the police elsewhere. Likewise, several blue cities throughout the country have opted to defund the police and “transfer the money into the community.”
Leftists have substituted the more effective “broken windows” policing strategy of quelling disorder before serious crime creeps in with a policy of going soft on crime. This approach means lessening the degree of murder charges and instituting “safe” injection sites for addicts to use illegal drugs in a medical environment. These policy proposals aligned with popular Black Lives Matter positions that view police as inherently corrupt and discriminatory.
In an April conference, Scott outlined a plan to gradually decrease police funds. He said, “We are going to still have a police department, and what we’re talking about is putting a group of people together to see how we can responsibly reimagine our city budget so that the burden is not solely on the police.”
Yet at the end of May, Scott changed his tune by giving $28 million to police when violence overtook the city.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan criticized Scott’s initial step towards defunding the police. “I was shocked and outraged yesterday by the mayor’s crazy comments about his desire to defund the police and to slash their budget and shrink them for the next five years. That is the worst possible thing we could do to stop the violent crime in Baltimore City,” he said on WBAL News Radio in April.
Hogan has been supportive of aggressive law enforcement before. He sent 4,000 members of the Maryland National Guard to regain control of the city during the 2015 Freddie Gray riots. He has said he believes sending the National Guard again to the city would not be helpful and instead thinks empowering the police and community efforts would be more effective.
Scott met with President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland in June to discuss preventative measures against gun violence. Scott plans to create a community violence intervention program that will be funded by Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
Yet Baltimore is more than the violence; its cobblestone streets and row houses hold a history. Francis Scott Key wrote our nation’s anthem in Fort McHenry across the Baltimore Inner Harbor. Baltimore’s historic streets once housed the poet Edgar Allan Poe. And Frederick Douglass’s abolitionist legacy is preserved in the city’s museums.
As gang violence runs rampant and casualties increase, Charm City needs a swift intervention to protect its citizens.