What You Really Need to Know About Baltimore, from a Reporter Who’s Lived There for over 30 Years

Michael A. Fletcher, Washington Post, April 28, 2015

It was only a matter of time before Baltimore exploded.

In the more than three decades I have called this city home, Baltimore has been a combustible mix of poverty, crime, and hopelessness, uncomfortably juxtaposed against rich history, friendly people, venerable institutions and pockets of old-money affluence.

The two Baltimores have mostly gone unreconciled. The violence that followed Freddie Gray’s funeral Monday, with roaming gangs looting stores and igniting fires, demands that something be done.

But what to do?

Baltimore is not Ferguson and its primary problems are not racial. The mayor, city council president, police chief, top prosecutor, and many other city leaders are black, as is half of Baltimore’s 3,000-person police force. The city has many prominent black churches and a line of black civic leadership extending back to Frederick Douglass.

Yet, the gaping disparities separating the haves and the have nots in Baltimore are as large as they are anywhere. And, as the boys on the street will tell you, black cops can be hell on them, too.

Freddie Gray’s life and death say much about the difficult problems that roil Baltimore. As a child, he was found to have elevated levels of lead in his blood from peeling lead paint in his home, leading to a raft of medical and educational problems, his family charged in a lawsuit. His friends remember him as a smiling, friendly guy who liked nice clothes and deplored violence. His criminal record says he operated on the periphery of the drug game. He did a short stint in prison, and according to news reports, his mother used heroin.

None of that is unusual in the West Baltimore community where he grew up–nor are they unusual in many of Baltimore’s impoverished neighborhoods. The federal government has said that Baltimore has the highest concentration of heroin addicts in the nation. Gray’s neighborhood of Sandtown-Winchester, once home to Thurgood Marshall and Cab Calloway, has more recently distinguished itself as the place that has sent the highest number of people to prison in the state of Maryland.

{snip}

Most of these problems are confined to the pockmarked neighborhoods of narrow rowhomes and public housing projects on the city’s east and west sides. They exist in the lives of the other Baltimore of renovated waterfront homes, tree-lined streets, sparkling waterfront views, rollicking bars and ethnic restaurants mainly through news reports. The two worlds bump up against one another only on occasion. Maybe when a line of daredevils on dirt bikes–the storied 12 O’clock Boys–startle motorists by doing near-vertical, high-speed wheelies in city traffic, or when groups of kids brawl in the tourist zone surrounding the Inner Harbor.

{snip}

Not long after I moved to Baltimore, my wife’s car was stolen in front of our house, which then was just four or five blocks from North and Pennsylvania avenues, the epicenter of Monday’s disturbance. The police came and asked the usual questions before my wife piped up, “What do you guys do to find stolen cars?”

One of the cops responded that the cars usually turn up a few days later when the joyriders run out of gas. Then, without irony or, seemingly, malicious intent, he looked at us–a young black couple–and said: “If we see a group of young black guys in a car, we pull them over.” We were speechless. Several days later, we were chagrined when my wife’s car turned up out of gas less than a mile from our home.

{snip}

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  • In summation, Baltimore is just another ratchet Bell Curve City, that will only be saved when the white liberals who want to gentrify it find an analogue to Ferguson in the Baltimore suburbs, a dumping ground.

    One of Nate Silver’s writers at 538 today tried to make the case that since the Baltimore PD has one of the highest arrest rates of its own officers of any big city PD in the country, that this was somehow to blame for the Baltmore PD having one of the highest rates of cop-on-civilian homicide in the country. Like this writer, I think the two are related, but unlike him, I do not think that the former causes the latter. I think they are both effects of a greater underlying cause, that being Baltimore is so heavily black.

    Such cities will have both affirmative action in police department hiring and promotion, thereby causing all the cops to be arrested, and it will also have a much higher rate of crime and a whole lot of contempt for law enforcement, meaning that conflagrations that result in (almost always justifiable) cop on civilian homicide are inevitable.

  • Frank_DeScushin

    No joke, when I was in Australia about fifteen years ago my hotel room was robbed and my belongings were scattered all about. The Australian police who I called looked around the place, looked at me, and said, “It’s gotta be the Aboriginees.”

    Leftists will call that racism. Reality would call that experience.

    • propagandaoftruth

      “Baltimore is not Ferguson and its primary problems are not racial. The mayor, city council president, police chief, top prosecutor, and many other city leaders are black, as is half of Baltimore’s 3,000-person police force.”

      Primary problems are not racial? The second sentence seems to contradict the first.

      • Usually Much Calmer

        Gray’s mom is a heroin user but he has brain damage because of his landlord.

        • propagandaoftruth

          His momma’s a ghetto negress and he suffers from congenitally low IQ, r-style breeding frenzies, and a penchant for senseless violence.

          Death of a Parasite – name of the play I need to write commemorating the dead black parasite de jour…

        • APaige

          Yes. Heroin addicts produce paint eaters.

          • Usually Much Calmer

            I think you must have misunderstood me.

            Read it as you would read this: Race is nothing more than a social construct but white people are inherently evil.

            Apologies for the ambiguity.

          • UncleSham

            Well, lead is quite a bit more toxic than heroin.

      • Johann Wald

        Glad I read through the comments before I posted mine because I would have been almost quoting you. I have to say that heaven forbid a reporter from the Washington Post write anything resembling the truth as borne out by the above article and what you quoted from it …”Its primary problems are not racial.” Talk about a baldfaced lie. Baltimore, along with every other city in this country with a large black population has nothing but problems and they’re all caused by blacks.

        • propagandaoftruth

          Glad I read through the comments before I posted mine because I would have been almost quoting you.
          =========
          I do it all the time, lol…

      • Jack Burton

        Maybe he meant not because of racism.

        They’re certainly racial, specifically black problems. Anywhere you have blacks you have more problems, and when the population reaches a critical point, usually past 60%, the society starts to fail, as it can’t maintain order and can’t sustain itself. The burden of black anti-social behavior and corruption becomes too much for whites to compensate for.

    • Oh, aboriginals. Spending hundreds of thousands of years on a fertile continent, deforesting the continent, only to make the bloody stick.

      • Michael Whalen

        Don’t forget the didgeridoo. It plays TWO (count ’em!) TWO musical notes!
        (Hope I spelled that word properly!)

        • UncleSham

          The didgeridoo is still a stick, albeit a hollow one.

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      • ElComadreja

        The only group of humanoids on earth even dumber than sub- Saharan Africans.

        • gooberboy9999

          Now now, pygmy people (the ones that haven’t been eaten by bantus yet) might be able to give abos a run for their petrol when it comes to that title.

  • MekongDelta69

    Whites build.

    Blacks destroy.

    End of psycho-babble…

  • Usually Much Calmer

    I’d comment but I can’t stop laughing.

  • superlloyd

    ‘Its primary problems are not racial.” Pull the other one. The problems are completely linked to low black IQ, extensive black criminality, laziness and sense of perennial victimhood like every other black area in the country.

    • Fletcher wrote:

      Its primary problems are not racial

      Fletcher meant:

      “There aren’t any easy convenient white people to blame.”

  • Oldcorporal

    More excuses for the violence; more condemnation of the police. Would the citizens of Baltimore prefer that the police be extra lenient with criminals? How did that work Monday night? When there are riots going on, the job of the police is to stop them. Not to “back off and give them room to destroy.”

  • Deacon Blue

    “Baltimore is not Ferguson and its primary problems are not racial. The mayor, city council president, police chief, top prosecutor, and many other city leaders are black, as is half of Baltimore’s 3,000-person police force. The city has many prominent black churches and a line of black civic leadership extending back to Frederick Douglass.Baltimore is not Ferguson and its primary problems are not racial. The mayor, city council president, police chief, top prosecutor, and many other city leaders are black, as is half of Baltimore’s 3,000-person police force. The city has many prominent black churches and a line of black civic leadership extending back to Frederick Douglass.”

    Anyone see the irony {or oxymoron?} between the 1st sentence and the rest of the paragraph?

    Baltimore’s problems are not racial? I don’t see Whites or Asians looting
    the CVS and liquor store on the TV…

    • dukem1

      If I had the chance to loot a liquor store, I’d go for the Blanton’s, Knob Creek or Basil Hayden, plus all the rye whiskey I could grab,,,I;m in to rye these days,

  • listenupbub

    The drugs are the real problem? What about the people who choose to take the drugs, despite [what should be to anyone with a brain] obvious evidence that the drugs are bad?

    • ElComadreja

      Instead of stopping them encourage them to take as much as possible. Give it to them free. Eventually most will be dead from overdoses.

  • 4321realist

    This lefty wasted a lot of words anguishing over the cause for such deterioration primarily because he IS a lefty. He lives in a world of perpetual delusion and denial.

    If not, he would understand that blacks can’t create a workable decent society themselves, because they’re black. It’s as simple as that.

    • John Smith

      He’s also a negro.

  • Samuel Hathaway

    Baltimore’s problems are in fact, racial, Mr. Fletcher. Absent the black underclass, the most acuted social problems that plague your city wouldn’t exist in the first place.

    If the black underclass were replaced by the Swiss, the Germans, the Norweigians and the Dutch, burned-out Baltimore would peaceful and livable again, as these groups of Europeans are known for tidy, neat, clean communities who don’t put up with trash.

  • Here’s what you really need to know about Baltimore the city:

    Its blacks have a median IQ of 76, which is 0.6 SD below the national average for blacks, and which means that more than a third are under the death penalty prohibited IQ threshold of 70.

    http://www.lagriffedulion.f2s.com/city.htm

    • propagandaoftruth

      I bet this pattern of exceptionally low IQ in ghetto-land (even for blacks) holds true in most black holes across the country. Good find.

      • Samuel Hathaway

        …black holes, indeed. A joke about I-285, the perimeter around Atlanta, is called, “Ring Around the Congo.”

        • propagandaoftruth

          Arthurtown, in Cola, SC – Congoids of the Congaree (River), as I say, lol…

        • ElComadreja

          I’ve heard it called “Apelanta”.

      • Perhaps so, but 76 is pretty low even for Bellcurvius.

    • John Smith

      Black, high and stupid is no way to go through life.

  • De Doc

    “Baltimore is not Ferguson and its primary problems are not racial. The mayor, city council president, police chief, top prosecutor, and many other city leaders are black, as is half of Baltimore’s 3,000-person police force.”

    Au contraire and for the reasons the author listed that is exactly what makes this a racial issue.

  • MBlanc46

    “If we see a group of young black guys in a car, we pull them over.”

    Exactly the appropriate response. If we did a lot more of this and then gave the perps a sentence commensurate with the crime, we might begin to get a handle on black crime and violence.

  • model1911

    “….primary problems are not racial…” The whole problem is race.

  • MooTieFighter

    So Baltimore’s issues are not racial. LOL. I beg to differ.

  • Strider73

    Especially since MD is not a “shall issue” CCW state, meaning any bureaucrat in the government food chain can deny an application for any reason, or none.

    MD may or may not have a castle doctrine and stand-your-ground law; a search I made the other day turned up contradictory articles.

  • Light from the East

    Another Detroit in the making?