In his book Don't Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America (purported to the Bible on how liberals should combat black crime in urban America) writes of his efforts to lower crime in Baltimore:
Baltimore was hell. The worst of it was on the streets, but the rest of it was pretty bad too. (p. 107)
The result made your blood run cold: gangs and drug markets and homicides everywhere. When we looked at a year’s worth of homicides, it was 303 victims and 210 suspects… Three quarters of victims and almost 90 percent of offenders had criminal records, the highest we’d ever seen, averaging 8.5 and 9.6 priors respectively. Nearly 60 percent of the killings happened in or near a street drug market. Despite the superheated street drug scene, only about 20 percent of killings had to do with drug business; the usual beefs, vendettas, and respect killings were the order of the day. (p. 108)Hell.
When the police department in Baltimore is tasked with, "Working to rebuild and strengthen relationships between police and communities is not a short-term goal; it is a long-term lasting relationship," you know those trying to keep alive civilization in the majority black city are stuck in a layer of hell Dante and Virgil dared never enter.
A recent increase in crime in Baltimore can be traced to gang activity, a Drug Enforcement Administration official told the WBAL-TV 11 News I-Team.
Violence and drugs go hand in hand, authorities say. The DEA's focus is to get illegal drugs off the streets, but it has been a challenge in Baltimore with a sense of lawlessness on the streets.
Gary Tuggle, assistant special agent in charge of the DEA's Baltimore District Office, is a native of Baltimore who was a city police officer in the Western District. He said gang members and so-called independent drug dealers are fueling much of the violence in the city.
"The uptick we are seeing, quite honestly, is the fact that they have space now and they are out and they've got the ability to deal drugs, and some feel they can deal with impunity," Tuggle said.
Tuggle said police are concerned about self-preservation and retribution when they're doing their jobs, which also leads to the violence.
"If folks, particularly gang leaders and drug dealers, aren't challenged on the street, they'll continue to deal drugs and the violence will increase," Tuggle said.
Tuggle said there is a large supply of drugs on the street. He said 17 pharmacies were looted during last month's civil unrest and that most were targeted by gangs.
He said the DEA is working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to identify the people who stole from the pharmacies. He said a number of the arsons were set to cover up the theft of narcotics from the stores.Hell.
“See all these bodies dropping?” a Baltimore police officer asked me when we spoke earlier this week. “People wanted a kind and gentler police department. Well, they’re receiving a kind and gentler police department.” He sighs before continuing. “That’s basically it. For real.”
Elsewhere, the Fraternal Order of Police released another statement, claiming that police are “under siege”:
- The criminals are taking advantage of the situation in Baltimore since the unrest. Criminals feel empowered now. There is no respect. Police are under siege in every quarter. They are more afraid of going to jail for doing their jobs properly than they are of getting shot on duty. Right now they can go to jail for following Supreme Court decisions such as Illinois v. Wardlow. The Baltimore States Attorney’s Office essentially overturned the Supreme Court’s decision. We hope that all leadership will come together to support the police to move the community forward.
The memo was perfectly timed, as more and more police officers have begun to talk to the press. The ever-conservative Sean Hannity interviewed an anonymous police officer on his FOX show, while GQ, Esquire, and other culture magazines have recently interviewed former BCPD officers about the current turn of events. A non-profit called Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance (POPPA!) has even sent NYPD officers to Baltimore over the past few days to help them get through this ... difficult time.
The BCPD officer I spoke with warns that people from within the department flip-flopping so regularly will only increase tension. “[Officers] are like, ‘Man, fuck this place!’ You know what I mean? People are just doing what they gotta do,” he says. “Officers think, ‘We got to take care of our own. We got to take care of each other.’ The mayor and State’s Attorney are the first to sell us out to the press. It’s like, c’mon. I know you had to charge [the officers involved with Gray’s death], but at least defend us on TV and shit. I get it. I get the charges. But if they can’t pay us and are also on TV fucking us, making our jobs harder, fuck that.”
I ask the mother I had been speaking to what she thought about this—the behind-the-scenes tension between cops and the mayor’s office, between cops and citizens, between citizens and the media. “Let me be clear, this is nothing new,” she says in a serious tone. “Who knows what will happen next? We just live our lives every day, we protect our kids. The rest of this? Who knows. It’s good now but here we’re always living one senseless death away from it all going to hell.”
Antoinette Perrine has barricaded her front door since her brother was killed three weeks ago on a basketball court near her home in the Harlem Park neighborhood of West Baltimore. She already has iron bars outside her windows and added metal slabs on the inside to deflect the gunfire.
"I'm afraid to go outside," said Perrine, 47. "It's so bad, people are afraid to let their kids outside. People wake up with shots through their windows. Police used to sit on every corner, on the top of the block. These days? They're nowhere."
Now West Baltimore residents worry they've been abandoned by the officers they once accused of harassing them. In recent weeks, some neighborhoods have become like the Wild West without a lawman around, residents said.
"Before it was over-policing. Now there's no police," said Donnail "Dreads" Lee, 34, who lives in the Gilmor Homes, the public housing complex where Gray, 25, was arrested.
"I haven't seen the police since the riots," Lee said. "People feel as though they can do things and get away with it. I see people walking with guns almost every single day, because they know the police aren't pulling them up like they used to."