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Why Baltimore Is a Murder Vortex

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It's no longer disputed (if it ever was) that Baltimore has seen a staggering increase in murder at least since the politically-staged Freddie Gray prosecutions of six police officers.  This was the city where the then-Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, told us that rioters and arsonists should be given "space to destroy."  (Ms. Rawlings-Blake later went on to fame when she was chosen to open the Democratic National Convention).

One might wonder why, exactly, Baltimore has become a murder vortex to an even greater extent than in the past.  I can't say for sure.  One reason is likely to be the handicapping of the police, most vividly on display with the aforementioned Freddie Gray prosecutions, and more recently backed up by the consent decree engineered by Obama administration lawyers in order to benefit drug dealers insure civil rights.

A second, more deep-seated and in a way even more appalling reason is captured by the news story whose first line is:  "A Project Baltimore investigation has found five Baltimore City high schools and one middle school do not have a single student proficient in the state tested subjects of math and English."
We sat down with a teen who attends one of those schools and has overcome incredible challenges to find success.

Navon Warren grew up in West Baltimore. He was three months old when his father was shot to death. Before his 18th birthday, he would lose two uncles and a classmate, all gunned down on the streets of Baltimore.

"I've lost a lot of people, so I'm used to it. It hurts," Warren said. "I just chose not to show it. I just keep it in. You just have to live on and keep going on every day. You have to do it somehow."
If the Klan itself had devised a plan to destroy the hopes of African Americans for a better life  --  and often to have a life at all  --  I don't know how it could be more devastating than the plan liberals have devised for what's left of education and policing in that once-proud and historic city.

7 Comments

Bill, I ask these question in a sincere attempt to get your view, not as any kind of snark:

What should be made of the fact that Rod Rosenstein was US Attorney for Maryland until very recently and during much of the recent surge in violent crime in Baltimore?

Put more broadly, do you think US Attorneys can and should be significantly credited/blamed for significant crime swings in their jurisdictions, or do you think there are generally larger forces in play (like education) that shape local crime patterns in ways that local federal prosecutors cannot usually significantly impact?

I think it's a perfectly legitimate question.

My first reaction is that murder is a state and local and almost never a federal offense.

Second, the people at the head of the line to take responsibility for murder are the people who commit it. It's curious to me that you so often walk past this, looking for someone else to finger.

Third, that said, the authorities can affect the murder rate by the policies they adopt. The Mayor's 2014 "give-space-to-destroy" policy seems to have been heard loud and clear, as homicides spiked in Baltimore in 2015 and last year.

In addition, two other things happened, neither of which Rosenstein could affect. One was the Freddie Gray circus prosecution undertaken by Democratic Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby. It was designed to, and did, intimidate the police.

The other was the consent decree written by Obama's DOJ (which is superior to the local US Attorney) and implemented by a leftist US district judge over Jeff Sessions' objections. That too was designed to, and did, complicate policing.

When policing gets less aggressive, violent crime goes up. Rod Rosenstein kept his hands off local policing -- something that you, as a believer in a smaller federal government, presumably approve. But the authorities that controlled state policing, all Democrats, turned out to be ideological, and to be driven, not by their duty to public safety, but by their enthusiasm for BLM.

So, yes, the authorities that actually had jurisdiction had a role in the murder spike, but that group would be those more on your side of this debate. Rod Rosenstein, I am happy to say, is on mine.

Hard to believe Doug does not know that the local US Attorney does not set Federal prosecution policy-that is directed by the President and his Justice department. Having said that and cognizant of the foolhardy priorities of the Obama administration, the explanation for Baltimore's murder rate becomes clear.

I'm pretty sure Doug knows the local US Attorney has almost nothing to do with overall federal prosecution policy, and still less with the policies in particular cities like Baltimore.

But there were two things Baltimore and federal policy had in common in the last part of the Obama/Holder/Lynch administration: They both embraced the criminal-as-victim and cop-as-Nazi ideology sponsored by Black Lives Matter; and they both presided over skyrocketing rates of violent crime.

Couple of quick reactions for Bill and mjs:

1. Here I seek not to "finger" anyone, but rather to get informed opinions about how much impact, good or bad, individual USAs can reasonably have on local crime. (And it is rich, Bill, you accuse me here of looking for "someone else to finger" for murder in light of your calls for a criminal investigation of the lawyers involved in modifying Wendall Callahan's crack sentence.)

2. Under the Obama administration, violent crime declined nearly everywhere through 2014 and continued to decline in big cities like NYC and Philly, but in many other cities like Chicago and Baltimore is spiked up dramatically. The point of my query was whether the local USA is a big or minor part of the story of local variation.

3. Though local USAs do not set national policy, they very much shape local priorities in all sorts of ways. Rudy Giuliani was largely (and wrongly?) credited for being a central figure as USA for NYC in turning about crime trends in the Big Apple. I believe he instituted a "federal day" to put a scare into local criminals, and I wonder if a similar policy could and should be used to try to help deal with crime surges in places like Baltimore and Chicago.

4. The discussions of "your side" and "my side" in this context is contributing very harmfully to what I think could be a consensus concern --- namely a drive to have less violent crime AND less costly punishment/government. Some states and localities have demonstrated that this is a real possibility, and seeing how we can achieve these goals is a "side" that I think we all should try to pursue without name-calling or accusations of bad faith or racism or all the other distracting rhetoric that I think badly hurts the cause in this setting.

Most of Guiliani's impact on crime in NYC took place as a result of his tenure as mayor.

In Philadelphia, 248 people were murdered in 2014 while 277 people were victims in 2016.Homicide statistics in 2017 are up 13%.

Joint Federal/local task forces have been effectively dealing with crime surges in major metropolitan areas for the last 30 years until they were hamstrung by the perverse policies of the Obama administration. Progressive big city mayors now view federal law enforcement as "bad guys"--to the detriment of public order.

Crime went down in NYC both when he was SDNY US Attorney and when he was mayor, and arguably the decline during his period as USA in the mid 1980s was more impressive because crime was going up elsewhere in the nation. But I would be inclined to guess mayors can and do impact crime in cities more than local US Attorneys.

On Phily, this report says "as of December 11 [2016], among part one crimes, burglaries are down 14%, reports of rape are down 10%, robberies have dropped 8%; homicides are down 1%, and aggravated assault are down 1%." https://beta.phila.gov/media/20161215161549/2016FirstYearKenneyAdministration.pdf

I am hopeful that all cities struggling with increased crime can and will be able to find was to forge effecting federal/local partnerships to have the positive outcomes we have seen in NYC in recent years.

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