WHY AMERICAN CITIES EXPLODE CONTINUED
BALTIMORE POLICE RESPOND TO THE INDICTMENT OF SIX OF ITS OFFICERS IN THE DEATH OF FREDDIE GRAY
Don Lemon: Baltimore Crime Is Off The Charts. Guess Who Is To Blame?
By Don Lemon
Baltimore we have a problem!
And I’m not talking about police excessive force or the shooting of unarmed black men.
The numbers are startling.
In just 72 hours, this past Memorial Weekend 29 people were shot, 7 were killed.
This month is the city’s deadliest in more than a decade, since 1999.
There have been 108 homicides so far this year, up 40 percent from last year.
City officials are dumbfounded to say the least.
The mayor says it’s disheartening.
The Police Chief Anthony Batts blames, in part, the recent unrest.
“Officers tell me and their supervisors, any time they pull up to respond to a call, they have 30 to 50 people surrounding them. We have to send in multiple units just to do basic police work, which says we have to work on community engagement.”
Batts has added more officers and presence in the Western District where most of the violence is occurring but so far it hasn’t helped.
“It makes it very difficult to follow up on violence that takes place there,” he said. “Clearly, they’re not holding back. They’re getting to those locations and getting surrounded. You have many citizens with hand-held cameras that they’re sticking in the faces of officers, an inch off the officer’s face.”
The real story however may not be anything Batts or the Mayor want to admit.
Arrests numbers are plummeting while the murder rate is surging.
Listen to a part of this report from my CNN colleague Miguel Marquez.
The officer’s voice is disguised for fear of retribution.
Miguel – “And morale? Where is morale for police officers?”
Officer – “It’s in the sewers. It’s down. It’s the worse of the worse I’ve ever seen in my career.”
The officer told Miguel the spike in murders and gun crime was the direct result of a coordinated police work slowdown.
Miguel – “Why do you think there is a great increase in the crime rate and the number of shootings in this town?”
Officer – “Officers stopped being proactive.
Miguel – “Not patrolling?”
Officer – “Not patrolling. Just stop being proactive.
Miguel – “Not talking to the community?
Officer – “Not talking. Stop being proactive. I believe it is a direct result of officers holding back.”
35 murders so far this month alone.
People are walking into hospitals from gunshot wounds that may not have even been reported to police.
Residents tell reporters they see officers driving right past street fights and disturbances.
City leaders, like Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, are in the same predicament as New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio after two officers were murdered during unrest in that city.
Officers turned their backs to De Blasio as he visited injured officers in the hospital and at the officer’s funerals.
But officers in Baltimore, according to at least one of their own, are turning their backs on not only the Mayor but also the citizens they’re sworn to protect.
So apparently the Baltimore Police are pissed over six of their officers being indicted in the death of Freddie Gray. Of course, Freddie Gray’s Mom and Dad, his brothers and sisters and his friends are probably pissed too. It’s just that they don’t get to see Freddie walking around nor do they get to hug him or tell him to straighten up and fly right, because he’s dead. And he’s dead at the hands of the Baltimore Police Department, whatever the technical cause of his demise might be.
He died while in police custody. He died while he had no means of protecting himself from that bolt in the van that punctured his brain, if that is indeed what caused his death. Apparently he was arrested for “making eye contact with a police officer” according to the police report. And now he’s dead.
He wasn’t robbing a bank. He wasn’t holding someone at gunpoint on the sidewalk of West Baltimore. He wasn’t stealing a car.
But he is dead.
And the cops are pissed? They are on a slowdown to protest the indictments of their fellow officers?
If this is the response of Baltimore’s Police force, then I maintain that it perfectly illustrates exactly what the problem is. Police officers are not above the law even when they act as if they are. Even the police don't get a free pass to kill folks. This is what needs to change. A few more indictments around the country might be just be the remedy.
PS: This is the last of the Exploding Cities/Baltimore posts. If it’s not apparent by now that we have a problem America………