I planned to focus this update on the changes in charges lodged against the six police officers, and there is trumped up news on that issue, as one might expect. Several of those officers were recently seen being delivered to court in a Baltimore police van, and they weren’t handcuffed! Oh, the outrage! Oh, the shame! Oh, the humanity!
Of course, such complaints are silliness itself. Police officers do not handcuff completely cooperative people they happen to be transporting who are not under arrest—and those officers were not under arrest at the time–but the social justice narrative of guilty verdict first, trial later if at all, must be upheld.
I’ll return to those charges and other issues in the next update, but for now, it’s worthwhile to examine another, and entirely predictable, issue: when you tell criminals they’re going to be given a free hand to destroy and kill, they’ll take advantage of that weakness. Fox News reports:
BALTIMORE – An epidemic of murder that has gripped Baltimore in the month following the Freddie Gray riots is threatening to undo decades of rebirth in the city’s popular downtown — and in the process, wipe away tens of millions of tourist dollars.
‘Sales are next to nothing,’ said Kenneth Robinson, manager of the Fudgery, an iconic candy store tucked in the heart of the Inner Harbor.
Local merchants were just starting to see business bounce back after last month’s riots. But a crime crisis has since gripped Baltimore, with police saying criminals have taken advantage of the situation to wreak havoc on Charm City.
Nine people were killed and nearly 30 wounded over the holiday weekend, about three weeks after the rioting. With 38 homicides so far in May, Baltimore is seeing its deadliest month since 1999. The number of killings this year is now at 111, compared with 211 for all of 2014.
Store owners, restaurateurs, pub owners and others in and around the Inner Harbor say the long Memorial Day weekend did help them recover losses associated with the looting and rioting sparked by the April 19 death of 25-year-old Gray in police custody.
But merchants worry the national attention on Baltimore’s crime wave will have many potential visitors scratching the city off their vacation calendar.
‘Business has been very slow,’ said Robinson, whose store has been around since 1980.
“Charm City.” I wasn’t aware of that one. Ironic, no? Isn’t what’s happening in Baltimore these days charming, at least to criminals?
Business also suffered at the nearby and upscale Harbor East commercial and residential district, said Blake Smith, owner of the Bagby Pizza Company and Ten Ten American Bistro.
‘After the curfew, it was terrible,’ the 30-year-old Smith said. ‘Lunch was down by half. Dinner was non-existent. … It’s still not the same, but close.’
Still, Smith says he worries about what might happen if one or more of the officers indicted in the Gray case is found not guilty or if another black male dies in police custody.
‘I wouldn’t be surprised if Baltimore never fully comes back,’ he said.
Nor would I Mr. Smith, nor would I. Once a social justice narrative takes hold, if local and elected state officials buy into it, as the Mayor and District Attorney have, there is no end to the horror. It begins with riots over the original incident, continuing protests and riots over the continuing social justice news coverage of minor, procedural matters in the courts, and if the accused should somehow luck into a court run under the rule of law, it continues with riots after an acquittal fails to deliver “justice.”
A debate is now raging in Baltimore and beyond over whether police, in the wake of the riots, are being constrained and are reticent to patrol aggressively — as crime soars.
Baltimore police union boss Lt. Gene Ryan said in a statement Thursday that criminals are ‘taking advantage’ of the situation and ‘feel empowered now.’ He said ‘police are under siege’ and afraid of going to jail for ‘doing their jobs.’
In roughly the first two weeks of May, arrests were down by 57 percent, which has also resulted in accusations that the police have intentionally retaliated. ‘My hope is the police will get the support they need from the community to be able to get some answers and bring some of these individuals to justice,’ Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told reporters Tuesday regarding the crime wave.
Stuck in the middle of the debate between the police force and City Hall are residents and businesses. Estimates by federal, state and local officials show the rioting — which lasted from April 25, hours after Gray’s funeral, to the early hours of April 28, when hundreds of National Guardsmen were deployed across the city — cost nearly $50 million. [skip]
Members of the police department and their representative say Rawlings-Blake allowed the protesters to throw rocks and destroy patrol cars and personal property, putting officers unnecessarily in harm’s way and resulting in dozens being injured. This backdrop has fueled allegations that officers no longer have the community and City Hall’s backing to do their job.
Remember this was the mayor who actually said—and tried to deny later—that criminals would be given the opportunity to destroy Baltimore, and they took full advantage of it. She was soon seen in the company of, and presumably availing herself of the wise counsel of, Al Sharpton, and has taken every opportunity to appear to be in support of the social justice narrative. Reports that she actively interfered with the police in their response to the initial rioting have not been encouraging to any who appreciate the rule of law, and certainly not to the Baltimore Police.
Rich Lowry at Politico points out that some black lives don’t matter:
BlackLivesMatter, the slogan of the movement that began in earnest after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, is a lie.
Taken at face value, the phrase is a truism, since obviously all lives matter. But the people who use it as a shibboleth don’t care about black lives per se so much as scoring points against the police.
When there is some awful tragedy, involving a cop shooting or doing harm to a young black man (sometimes justifiably, sometimes not), they muster every ounce of their moral dudgeon and stage demonstrations eagerly covered by a sympathetic media.
Baltimore was an obsession of the BlackLivesMatter crowd and of the news media after the death of Freddie Gray from a terrible injury suffered in police custody. But now that 35 people have been murdered in the month of May, the highest in a month since 1999, the response has been muted.
A few Baltimore organizations are staging anti-violence protests, but they won’t command major media attention. There have been headlines and TV reports about the killing spree, but nothing like the ubiquitous calls for yet another national “conversation’ after Freddie Gray’s death.
Such calls for a “conversation,” particularly a “national conversation” are lies of the first order. Those demanding those conversations don’t want an honest, productive back and forth. Their intention is not to listen to and consider the views of others. They want everyone else to accept their premise before the first word is spoken, and to shut up and agree they’re racists, and all demands must be met, such demands usually amounting to huge amounts of taxpayer money being given to the conversation demanders. Lowry continues:
Let’s be honest: Some black lives really don’t matter. If you are a young black man shot in the head by another young black man, almost certainly no one will know your name. Al Sharpton won’t come rushing to your family’s side with cameras in tow. MSNBC won’t discuss the significance of your death. No one will protest, or even riot, for you. You are a statistic, not a cause. Just another dead black kid in some city somewhere, politically useless to progressives and the media, therefore all but invisible.
The same Memorial Day weekend during which there were nearly 30 shootings and nine mostly young people were murdered in Baltimore, demonstrators were out in force, blocking traffic — not to protest the shootings, of course, but the state of Maryland funding a youth jail in a city that rather desperately needs a youth jail.
When April Ryan of the American Urban Radio Networks asked White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Tuesday what can be done about violence in places like Baltimore, Earnest first suggested passage of more gun-safety laws — even though Baltimore already has some of the strictest gun-control laws in the country.
For Progressives, gun control is like global warming: everything is an excuse for more money spent, less individual liberty and more governmental power and control. Baltimore has draconian gun control laws and they’ve failed miserably? Why, that’s proof positive that more and more draconian gun control laws are required. That’ll stop primarily black thugs from murdering each other and innocents! Oh that’s right. Sorry! Madame Mayor has proclaimed that such people aren’t “thugs.”
What neither of them mentioned is the police. In Baltimore, the famous looted CVS stopped burning, but the riot kept going in a different form. Just as the Freddie Gray unrest was initially stoked by an inadequate police response, the wave of shootings has been enabled by less aggressive police patrols.
The Baltimore Sun ran a headline (since changed) that had the air of a conundrum, although it isn’t very puzzling, ‘With arrests down in Baltimore, mayor ‘examining’ increase in killings.’ According to the paper, arrests have dropped by about half in May. The predictable result is that violent crime is spiking.
This is reminiscent of one of my favorite progressive headlines: “More People Jailed, But Crime Rates Decline!” How could such a thing be? They were genuinely puzzled.
The implication is clear: More people need to be arrested in Baltimore, not fewer. And more need to be jailed. If black lives truly matter, Baltimore needs more and better policing and incarceration to impose order on communities where a lawless few spread mayhem and death.
Why have the police in Baltimore pulled back? Baltimore’s police commissioner, according to the Sun, ‘has said police are struggling to stop violence in West Baltimore, where officers have been routinely surrounded by dozens of people, video cameras and hostility while performing basic police work.’
If the message is supposed to be that they don’t want the police there, it has been received. [skip]
Meanwhile, anonymous police officers say they feel that city authorities don’t have their back, understandably enough when city leaders are loath to call rioters ‘thugs’ and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby rushed to announce charges against the Freddie Gray officers to placate the mob.
Imagine that. Lowry again:
It is wrong for the police to shrink from doing their job, but the last month in Baltimore shows how important that job is. This is especially true in dangerous, overwhelmingly black neighborhoods. They need disproportionate police attention, even if that attention is easily mischaracterized as racism. The alternative is a deadly chaos that destroys and blights the lives of poor blacks.
It is a paradox that a figure who is anathema to the BlackLivesMatter movement, Rudy Giuliani, saved more black lives than any of his critics ever will. He did it by getting the police to establish and maintain basic order in New York’s neighborhoods and defending the cops when the likes of Al Sharpton maligned them.
What most people don’t realize–and the police are glad for it–is that the phrase “the thin, blue line,” is all too descriptive. The police can do their jobs effectively and survive only if most of the people are willing to obey most laws most of the time, and if their employers–including their direct bosses and the politicians that hire them–believe in the rule of law and apply it to the public and the police. If either of these factors does not hold true, policing is very, very dangerous and difficult. If both don’t hold, it’s impossible. That’s the current state of affairs in Baltimore.
Police work is, for the right kind of person, a very noble and satisfying profession. Police officers love catching really bad guys and putting them away. They know that a small portion of the population commits the majority of crimes, particularly violent crimes, and when those criminals are in jail, they aren’t harming the innocent. They also know, particularly those that live in large cities ruled by progressives, that no one hates them and wishes them ill more than their political masters.
Such officers live in a world where minority populations—in the case or Baltimore mostly black—live with a high school-like code of uniting against authority. They too often buy into a bizarre ethic of not only supporting, but actively helping the most vicious criminals only because they happen to be the same race. It is these same vicious criminals that prey on those that support and help them, and that make their communities and lives active war zones where the innocent are regularly beaten, robbed, raped and killed.
Under normal, rational working conditions, a significant portion of police officers will take things easy. They will do the minimum. They will not be proactive, but will simply wait to be assigned calls, and will do everything they reasonably can to avoid danger and conflict. How many? Perhaps 30% of any police force.
Consider Baltimore, a progressive bastion with all of the failings of a city under progressive domination for a half-century or more. The Baltimore PD before Freddie Gray was surely already a bastion of political correctness, which means that more than 30% were cautious never to do anything that might cause them trouble, which meant hands off touchy minority communities unless they had no way to avoid it. Then came Freddie Gray, and a mayor actively preventing the police from stopping rioters. This allowed the city to burn, caused injury to a great many officers and others, and then, the prosecutor arrested six officers, black and white, on charges for which there remains no clear probable cause.
The number of officers convinced that the only way they can survive is to avoid having anything to do with black people—this includes black officers—is now surely in the 60-70% range. The ethic among Baltimore officers is now certainly “they can cut each other from the lips to the hips for all I care.”
One can, like Lowry, decry that kind of attitude and practice all they like, but they don’t understand that this is not an ill-considered, angry response to a slight by a “black” mayor rather than a mayor who happens to be black, and hasty charges lodged by a black social justice prosecutor rather than a prosecutor who happens to be black. What rational Baltimore officer could believe that if they had to legitimately use force against a black person, or God forbid, kill one, the city would support them? Trust me: Baltimore officers know they have some supervisors and administrators that fully buy the social justice line, and will gladly earn promotions and raises by screwing them. They are absolutely certain the politicians that rule Baltimore will, with little or no provocation, throw them to the wolves, and the prosecutor will be only to glad to smear on the BBQ sauce.
The officials of the City of Baltimore have absolutely squandered the trust of the police, and it will take a very long time for it to be regained, if ever. It will not be possible while six officer’s lives and futures hang in the balance. Citizens that imagine such craven political opportunists to be on their side because they happen to be of the same race will be, sooner rather than later, disastrously disappointed.
In Baltimore, any black person arrested has every reason to believe false charges of mistreatment by the police will not only be given a welcome hearing, but will be likely to result in an undeserved payday. Social justice cracktivists will have yet another rallying cry and payday, and various anarchists and social justice thugs will get to loot and burn to their heart’s content. The media will love a new story to add to the narrative, and the Justice Department will send more community organizers to help to “organize” even more protests, which will culminate in eternal federal control over the Baltimore PD (go here to see what kind of dangerous, destructive cracktivists run the DOJ).
And the officers? They are now in more danger than ever before from criminals that know they’re essentially untouchable. Officers will avoid any situation where they may have no choice but to use deadly force, because they have no doubt they’ll be charged with all manner of crimes and the prosecutors will lavish more money and time and effort on those prosecutions than they ever expended against actual criminals. It’s a win-win for social justice—those opposed to the rule of law and civic order—and an absolute loss for the police and the law-abiding, particularly black citizens of Baltimore, and for the entire city as well. Even if an officer is eventually acquitted, they’ll be impoverished, they’ll have to leave Baltimore, and their prospects of ever working again in law enforcement will be nonexistent.
Until officers can be reasonably assured that when they legitimately use force, including deadly force, they will be treated reasonably and within the law, they have no choice but to do only what they must. Those that suffer most will be those Baltimore citizens most in need of effective policing.
Progressive politicians? They’ll continue to call for summer recreation programs, and jobs programs, and gun control and “national conversations” while Baltimore simmers and burns in the long, hot summer to come.