Debate Magazine

State of Anarchy in Post-riot Baltimore: Homicides Spike; Police Presence Scarce; Residents Fearful

By Eowyn @DrEowyn

If Americans want to see the result of the war on cops, go to Baltimore, Maryland, especially western Baltimore, where the streets now resemble the anarchic wild, wild West.

As reported by the AP, in the wake of the protests/riots/looting ostensibly about Freddie Gray, Baltimore’s homicide rate of 36 murders for May is the highest in 16 years, since 1999. Ten of May’s homicides happened in the Western District, which has had as many homicides in the first five months of this year as it did all of last year. And the month isn’t over yet.

To compare, Baltimore’s homicide rates in the months preceding May were 22 in April, 15 in March, 13 in February and 23 in January.

Non-fatal shootings are spiking as well. So far in May there have been 91 — 58 of them in the Western District.

At the same time, arrests have plunged more than 50% compared to last year.

Even before Gray’s death, police were making between 25% to 28% fewer arrests each month than they made in the same month last year. But in May arrests declined far more sharply. So far this month, arrests are down roughly 56%. Police booked just 1,045 people in the first 19 days of May, an average of 55 a day. In the same time period last year, police arrested 2,396 people, an average of 126 a day. In fact, police did not make any arrests in the triple digits between April 22 and May 19, except on two occasions. On April 27, when protests gave way to rioting, police arrested 246 people. On May 2, the last day of a city-wide curfew, police booked 140 people.

All of which leaves residents fearful for their safety. West Baltimore residents worry they’ve been abandoned by the officers they once accused of harassing them. Residents say that in recent weeks, some neighborhoods have become like the Wild West without a lawman around.

Antoinette Perrine, 47, whose brother was among the 36 killed this month on a basketball court near her home in the Harlem Park neighborhood of West Baltimore, has since barricaded her front door. She already has iron bars outside her windows and added metal slabs on the inside to deflect the gunfire. Perrine said, “I’m afraid to go outside. 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.”

Donnail “Dreads” Lee, 34, who lives in the Gilmor Homes, the public housing complex where Gray, 25, was arrested, said, “Before it was over-policing. Now there’s no police. I haven’t seen the police since the riots. 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.”

Anthony Batts
Last week, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts denied that his officers deliberately are “holding back” from policing tough neighborhoods, but that police are encountering dangerous hostility in the Western District: “Our officers tell me that when officers pull up, they have 30 to 50 people surrounding them at any time.”

At a City Council meeting Wednesday, Batts said officers have expressed concern they could be arrested for making mistakes: “What is happening, there is a lot of levels of confusion in the police organization. There are people who have pain, there are people who are hurt, there are people who are frustrated, there are people who are angry. “here are people, and they’ve said this to me, `If I get out of my car and make a stop for a reasonable suspicion that leads to probable cause but I make a mistake on it, will I be arrested?’ They pull up to a scene and another officer has done something that they don’t know, it may be illegal, will they be arrested for it? Those are things they are asking.”


Protesters said Gray’s death is emblematic of a pattern of police violence and brutality against impoverished Blacks in Baltimore. That prompted Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who recklessly had given a green signal to protesters “to purge” (which she subsequently denied doing), to ask newly installed U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch for a full-fledged probe into whether the department employs discriminatory policing, excessive force and unconstitutional searches and arrests.

See “A movie becomes real: Baltimore race riots understood mayor’s words as permission to Purge.”

Baltimore riots The Purge

At a news conference yesterday, Rawlings-Blake said there were “a lot of reasons why we’re having a surge in violence…there’s a lot of distrust and a community breakdown. The result is routinely increased violence.” She said her office is “examining” the relationship between the homicide spike and the dwindling arrest rate: “It’s clear that the relationship between the commissioner and the rank-and-file is strained. He’s working very hard to repair that relationship.”

Michael Greenberger, an emergency response specialist and the founder and director of the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security, cautions against blaming the police for the violence. He said it’s more likely a response to Gray’s death and the rioting: “We went through a period of such intense anger that the murder rate got out of control. I think it’s been really hard for the police to keep on top of that.”

Resident Donnail “Dreads” Lee disagrees. He says rival gang members are taking advantage of the police reticence to settle scores: “There was a shooting down the street, and the man was standing in the middle of the street with a gun, just shooting. Usually, you can’t walk up and down the street drinking or smoking weed. Now, people are everywhere smoking weed, and police just ride by, look at you, and keep going. There used to be police on every corner. I don’t think they’ll be back this summer.

Veronica Edmonds, a 26-year-old mother of seven in the Gilmor Homes, while saying that she wishes the police would return, still places the blame on the police. She said if the police “focused more on criminals and left the petty stuff [like drug use] alone, the community would have more respect for police officers.”

MD Sheriff Mike Lewis

Ian Hanchett reports for Breitbart that on yesterday’s Fox News “Hannity,” Wicomico County, MD Sheriff Mike Lewis (R) said that police officers are plain “fearful” of doing their jobs. Lewis told Sean Hannity:

“Sean, the Baltimore City Police Department, the officers particularly on the street, have been eviscerated, they’ve been disemboweled, their guts removed to have the courage to go out there and do this job. They’re very fearful that if they go out there and be proactive, which we all should be doing in law enforcement today, we can’t afford to be reactive, especially in urban areas. Those officers are no longer being proactive, and as you see, the violence has surged. … And I hope this is a shot fired across the bow of mayors and urban leaders across this country. Once you disembowel your law enforcement officers, then you can no longer expect them to go out there and protect you, or protect your communities. This is very troubling the worst I’ve ever seen in 31 years of law enforcement. I’m hearing it all the time. They’re [police officers] fearful at doing their jobs.”

See also:

  • Rumor: U.S. Army colonel on Obama’s martial law plan
  • Black sheriff to Obama: You built America’s racial divide
  • List of persons/groups paid by Soros to protest in Ferguson & Selma
  • Freddie Gray’s death ruled a homicide. 6 Baltimore cops in custody
  • Armed Black Panthers call for murder of cops


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