Yesterday brought us a grim record from the city of Baltimore; one which, I assure you, the city wishes it had not set.

Excerpted from Kevin Rector’s article in the Baltimore Sun:

With two fatal shootings Tuesday night, the recent reclassification of a decades-old shooting as a killing and another homicide Wednesday evening, Baltimore has hit 343 homicides in 2017, and a new record for killings per capita.

The homicide rate for 2017 is now 55.8 killings per 100,000 people. The previous record was 55.35 per 100,000 in 2015. The city suffered 344 homicides that year, but had thousands more residents.

The most homicides to occur in a year was 353 in 1993, but the city had some 100,000 more residents then.

What is causing this record-setting spike in Baltimore’s murder rate?

Do you think it might have something to do with the riots which occurred after the death of Freddy Gray in 2015?  The fact that his death was avidly promoted as a racial incident despite the fact that half the officers charged were Black and half were White?  The political aftermath, during which then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and State Attorney prosecutor Marilyn Mosby made it clear where their sympathies lied, and essentially put the entire police force under siege?

Were they correct to do so?  In that regard, two thoughts:

-I have no doubt that there are racists within Baltimore’s police force, who see Black people as lesser beings.

-And I have no doubt that – based on the performance of Rawlings-Blake and Mosby, and based on the political and media treatment of the 6 officers (none of whom were found guilty) –  Baltimore police, regardless of their racial feelings, now fear that their slightest misstep with a Black suspect might result in charges brought against them, their careers ended, their reputations destroyed, and every cent they ever earned going to lawyers.

Put those two factors together and what do you get?  You get violent (and non-violent) criminals who know the police are more likely to back off, which empowers them to ply their trades on the streets of the city…with the resulting potential for record murder rates.

I don’t know what the answer is for Baltimore.  I doubt anyone does.  But someone had damn well better start looking for it.  Because, as things stand, the city’s situation shows no sign of improving in the future.

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