Tuesday, December 1, 2009

#217. The Reality of Baltimore

The era that gave us Sherman McCoy and Patrick Bateman also gave us "Tarzan Boy," by Baltimora. This particular song encapsulates the fun and frivolity of the 1980s:
"Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
(4 volte)

Jungle life
You're far away from nothing
It's all right
You won't miss home

Take a chance
Leave everything behind you
Come and join me
Won't be sorry
It's easy to survive"
Yes, the song from the Listerine commercials is the perfect segue into today's topic, the lovely city of Baltimore. The theme song of that particular city is henceforth Baltimora's "Tarzan Boy" for the lyrics encompass life in that fair city quite accurately:

"An increasing number of Baltimore residents and tourists have been victims of random, unprovoked attacks in the downtown area over the past month by roving groups of young people, even as police beef up their presence around the Inner Harbor.

Many of the assaults, which have been reported in areas within walking distance of the harbor, follow a similar pattern. The victims report being attacked from behind while they walk, punched and kicked in the head and upper body by groups of males and females. Items are rarely taken, and few, if any, words are spoken.

Not even police are immune from the attacks: An off-duty officer from New Jersey said he and his girlfriend were beaten in the downtown area last weekend by males and females who he believed were gang members.

"In the past, we have never felt unsafe in your city, but we most certainly do now," George Williams, a 35-year-old patrol officer from Brick Township, N.J., wrote in a letter to Mayor Sheila Dixon. "Your office, as well as your police command staff, has an obligation to keep all citizens living in and/or visiting the city safe and that is simply not happening."

Jungle-life and savagery are over taking the once fair city of Baltimore, which would no longer be recognizable to H. L. Mencken:
"As of the 2005-2007 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, White Americans made up 31.4% of Baltimore's population; of which 30.4% were non-Hispanic whites. Blacks or African Americans made up 63.8% of Baltimore's population; of which 63.6% were non-Hispanic blacks. American Indians made up 0.3% of the city's population; of which 0.2% were non-Hispanic. Asian Americans made up 1.9% of the city's population."
Baltimore is a city was the hometown of one of the first black-on-white bus beatings (two others happened in Oregon and St. Louis), as public transportation offers ample opportunity to attack defenseless people:
"A white woman beaten by a group of black students on a bus has prompted a hate-crime investigation, attempts by transit officials to reassure riders of the safety of the system, and radio talk-show chatter over comparisons with the Jena Six case."
Baltimore is a city that has a dramatically high crime rate and this outburst in criminality is seemingly prompted uniquely by Black people against either white or Black people:

"Police believe a long-running dispute between drug organizations contributed to an unprecedented eruption of violence on Baltimore's east side Sunday night that left at least 18 people shot, including two who died.

Twelve of the victims were struck at a backyard cookout that left a pregnant woman and a 2-year-old child injured, an incident that police say prompted a running gun battle between two vehicles three hours later.

Mayor Sheila Dixon called the shootings a "cowardly act" and implored the community to come forward with tips, as police directed dozens of additional officers into the eastern and southeastern districts."

Just how bad is crime in Baltimore (they have a blog dedicated to just covering crime, and a real-time map that shows crimes as they're reported) you might ask? Well, they rank 1st in homicide ( and remember, citizens of Baltimore worship an NFL football player - Ray Lewis - who has questionable past in Atlanta, where he was tried for murder):

"Baltimore saw fewer killings last year than any other in the past two decades, but data released this week show the city's homicide rate ranked the highest among the nation's cities with a population of more than 500,000.

Despite recording its lowest number of killings in 20 years, Baltimore experienced 37 homicides per 100,000 residents last year, ahead of Detroit, which had 34 per 100,000 residents, according to data compiled by the FBI.

While the District of Columbia was not included in FBI data, it appears to rank third, with about 31 killings per 100,000 residents. No other city with a population of more than 500,000 came close; Philadelphia had the next highest rate, with 22 homicides per 100,000 people."

Yes, Baltimore is the crime mecca of America, and they have a football team - the Baltimore Ravens - that strive to be a purer representative of the city, with Ray Lewis as the face of the franchise:
"Despite his accomplishments on the field, Lewis' public image was tarnished following a Super Bowl XXXIV party in Atlanta on January 31, 2000. Following the party, a fight broke out between him and rapper Chino Nino's entourage, in which Jacinth Baker, 21, and Richard Lollar, 24, died from stab wounds. Lewis and two companions, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, were brought to an Atlanta police station for questioning. Eleven days later, along with Oakley and Sweeting, Lewis was indicted for murder and aggravated assault.

During the trial, several witnesses whose testimony would supposedly prove Lewis’ guilt had altered their stories initially given to investigators.[citation needed] Their testimonies were supposed to show that Ray Lewis hit, kicked or stabbed someone, and that he even admitted as much afterwards. Instead, the vast majority of testimony had either been inconclusive, or else supported the defense’s contention that Lewis acted solely as a peacemaker, trying to prevent a tragedy that he would be tied to and potentially hurt his career. According to ESPN legal analyst, Alan J. Baverman, "as to Ray Lewis, there is no evidence that he assisted anybody in a stabbing or encouraged anybody to do a stabbing which would make him a party to felony murder, malice murder, or felony assault with a knife."

Lewis's attorney arranged with prosecutors to dismiss the murder charges if Lewis pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice in exchange for him testifying against Oakley and Sweeting. Lewis accepted the plea bargain and was sentenced to one year of probation. He was not suspended by the NFL but was fined US$250,000, a league record at the time."

Lewis got off for his crime, which is exactly what another criminal did in a recent "conviction" in Baltimore for the murder of a white girl at a liquor store:
No jail time for a young woman's brutal killer--is this justice? By Richard E. Vatz August 4, 2009

Less than a year ago, a beautiful and wonderful citizen by all accounts, Aysha Ring, was viciously murdered by David Briggs--stabbed to death while standing in line at a convenience store. The perpetrator has been found not criminally responsible and is committed to the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup. He will serve no jail time and will be re-evaluated in a year for possible release, although prosecutor S. Ann Brobst told this writer that her office will ensure that does not occur.

According to the Maryland Annotated Code, a defendant may be found "not criminally responsible" if, due to a mental disorder, a preponderance of the evidence indicates that he or she cannot "appreciate the criminality" of his or her conduct or "conform [his or her] conduct to the requirements of the law."

Even the current mayor of Baltimore, Shelia Dixon, has decided to get in on the action of crime in the city, this time in hording gift cards for the homeless for herself:
"Sheila Dixon faces 12 charges, including perjury, theft, fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary and misconduct in office, according to ABC2 News, our sister station in Baltimore.

According to Maryland state prosecutors, Dixon received gifts from a real estate developer that same year. The gifts included travel, hotels and a gift certificate. State prosecutors say she used that certificate to buy gift cards. Later that year, state prosecutors say Dixon received Best Buy gift cards, which she used to buy a Play Station 2, CDs and DVDs.

In December 2005, state prosecutors say real estate developers gave Dixon Target & Best Buy gift cards. According to the indictment, Dixon told a developer that the cards would be given to needy families. But according to the charges, Dixon used 19 of the 20 Best Buy cards to buy a Digital Camcorder, a Playstation 2 and other electronics for her personal use.

In December 2006, Old Navy, Best Buy & other gift cards were given to the Mayor to give to needy families. But prosecutors say she used them to buy an Xbox 360, PlayStation portable, clothes and other things. According to the indictment, some of the cards were given to her staff at an office Christmas party.
Mayor Dixon (today) escaped most of the charges, however it is unclear if she is expected to give back the gifts she purchased with the gift cards intended for homeless people:
"The jury convicted Mayor Sheila Dixon on one count of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary.

Dixon was acquitted of felony theft charges.

The jury couldn't reach an unanimous decision on count six. The judge declared a mistrial. The state has until the end of the week to decide whether to refile the charges related to that count.

After the verdict was read, Dixon promised that the city will continue to run."
Life in Baltimore, beautifully crystallized in the form of a song by Baltimora, will undoubtedly "continue to run". Or you could just go watch The Wire on DVD to see the reality of Baltimore, for the is precisely the Stuff That Black People Don't Like. If you plan to visit Baltimore, prepare to enter the realm of a city known for criminality and ponder the last stanza of Poe's "The Raven",to consider the fate of that once proud city:
And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadows on the floor; And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted--nevermore!
Baltimore has elected a mayor that represents the town beautifully (and cheers on a football team with a questionable linebacker prowling the field), and somewhere, someway, H. L. Mencken is smiling, for the reality of Baltimore is yet another example of Stuff Black People Don't Like.

Unlike in "Tarzan Boy", Baltimore isn't the easiest place to survive.


Anonymous said...

Re:"...Baltimore residents and tourists have been victims of random, unprovoked attacks ..."
The above statement is classic disinformation. One tip is that the descriptions of these types of attacks are uniformly called "random". Looking closer we see cognitive dissonance employed to mislead and confuse the reader.
Why do I say that. Well, because humans always look for and see patterns; it is part of our cognitive set. We are very poor at understanding what "random" means; probability estimating is not a native tendency. Even more obviously, in matters related to danger, to "flight or fight" we are wired to react quickly, to employ snap judgement. Under these circumstances people never conceptualize events as random. It is the depth of deception to continuously use the term random when the context is violence. Since people, when encountering a flight or fight situation, don't think in random terms, why is the media always drawing a portrait in words of that same situation using those words?
Purely and simply to mislead and confuse, to deny the reader a connection with reality.

DC Handgun Info (a pro-self-defense blog) said...

One of my neighbors -- a military veteran with a visible injury and two arm-braces -- was pushed to the ground and had his car stolen in Baltimore. Welcome to "Charm City," sucka! Only the thugs in Maryland carry guns; the law-abiding have to go through an arduous and expensive application process (six pages of paperwork) to get a concealed carry permit. To get it, you must prove your need, i.e., if you've been threatened, you need to provide police reports. You can get a permit if you carry large sums of cash for your business. You have to apply for the permit through the Maryland State Police. In a free state like Virginia, you apply through a circuit court.

Anonymous said...

To clarify a little further, re the random aspect, let me ask a reader: if you see a large black man knocking down an elderly white woman, do you immediately think: God, how random is that? No, of course you don't. You think, more or less immediately: I am horrified and I will avoid large black men in the future.
And so, when the printed account is viewed, do you not feel a disconnect if you see the word random prominently used in the printed account?
Of course you do; that is the cognitive dissonance at work. You begin to wonder at your own judgement; was I wrong to think something other than random?
Until of course like millions of your fellow citizens have done, you laugh at throw the stupid piece of trash in the wastebasket.