|The black community leaders/clergy in Baltimore (or is it Indianapolis) speak out against black violence|
On Monday, a group of ministers promised to take on a bigger role in violence prevention and activists held a peace rally and barbecue in East Baltimore. Recent days have seen a citywide prayer tour and calls for a 24-hour Baltimore "cease fire."
The most visible example of the increased passion came Friday night, when organizers said 600 men walked the length of North Avenue and back — about 10 miles — to protest violence. Among those who attended was 66-year-old Cornell Rigby of Northwest Baltimore, who said he came to the event after hearing about it on the radio.
"If we don't demonstrate, it's like saying [the gun violence] is OK, that society is accepting of it," said Rigby, who led call-and-response chants during the march.
"We're redeeming ourselves, because we've been quiet too long."
Those involved in the efforts say many people don't pay attention to crime until an incident hits close to home. Others might want to get involved but have trouble figuring out how.
"It's just so challenging to figure out what to do," said the Rev. Scott Slater, of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, at a ceremony Monday in East Baltimore to dedicate a peace mural.
The Rev. Willie Ray has been trying to galvanize residents for decades, including an annual event that sought to get people to link hands along the length of North Avenue — but which sometimes drew only a handful of participants.
"It's a slow process, and you have to go with the flow," Ray said. "You find a few people that's going in your direction, and you roll with it."
At the corner of Broadway and North Avenue, where Marques Dent sold snow cones for three summers as a child, the former Air Force captain threw a peace rally on Monday afternoon complete with a DJ, grilled hot dogs and drinks.
"Baltimore's small," said Dent, who grew up in the area and started an IT job-training nonprofit when he got out of the Air Force in January. "It might not be my cousin, but it might be the cousin of someone I know. I have several friends who have been affected. They say, 'I'm tired of going to funerals.'"
Dent said the violence has shaken Baltimore because it seems to be on the uptick, with few answers as to why.
"People are upset — they're upset with our law enforcement, they're upset with our legislature, they're upset with our community leaders," he said. "People can't be dropping like flies just because it's hot outside."
If suburbanites were uneasy about venturing into the “dangerous” city before, gun-toting gang members are working overtime to validate their fears.
Collectively, city and county governments spend about 90 percent of their budgets on public safety. That’s correct — about 90 percent!
The other 10 percent pays for things that actually make cities attractive and livable: parks, infrastructure, transportation options.
Indianapolis needs to find a way to even out the ratio. We can’t keep spending more and more money to lock people up. It’s expensive, and the cycle will only continue to repeat itself with each new generation.
Because one of the reasons why we have so much crime is because we spend so much money trying to punish people after they commit crimes instead of investing in things that will prevent crime and help people find other ways to live.
Every high-crime neighborhood where IMPD will send more officers is a neighborhood also plagued with poor schools, rundown parks and crumbling infrastructure. Abandoned houses, by the thousands, are falling apart in these areas.
Overgrown lots are filled with weeds, rodents and other vermin. Streets flood when it rains. Sidewalks are turning into gravel and dust. And the city’s grossly underfunded bus service is of limited use at best in getting to and from employment centers that pay livable wages.