- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 18, 2003

During Martin O'Malley's first two years as mayor, Baltimore experienced one of the largest drops in violent crime of any American city. A large part of the credit goes to Mr. O'Malley's sustained anti-drug and anti-crime campaign, modeled after Rudolph Giuliani's enormously successful efforts in New York. Two people who believed in it were 43-year-old Carnell Dawson and his 36-year-old wife, Angela, who lost their lives fighting for their convictions. But, if lawyer Johnnie Cochran gets his brand of justice, all Baltimore taxpayers will have to pay a price.

The Dawsons, who lived with their five children at a rowhouse on E. Preston Street, made no secret of their distaste for the drug dealers who preyed on their neighborhood and alerted police to what was taking place. On Oct. 3, someone tossed a firebomb into the Dawson home, but the family escaped. Police and city prosecutors offered to relocate the family to a safer location. Mr. and Mrs. Dawson refused, saying they would not allow drug dealers to run them out of their home. Then, several weeks later, the Dawson home was firebombed a second time, with horrific results. All seven members of the family died in the attack. And, if Mr. Cochran best-known for playing the race card to get O.J. Simpson acquitted on murder charges gets his way, Mr. O'Malley and Baltimore's taxpayers could pay a heavy financial price for attempting to rid their city of drugs. A 21-year-old neighbor who was said to have been angry with the Dawsons for reporting drug traffickers to police has been charged with the crime.

Mr. Cochran's law firm is contemplating a lawsuit blaming Mr. O'Malley's anti-drug campaign for the murder of a courageous woman who attempted to rid her neighborhood of this plague. Angry relatives retained his law firm to represent them, and Mr. Cochran has apparently come up with a plan to shake down the city: The Associated Press reported Jan. 9 that one member of Mr. Cochran's law firm, Janell Byrd-Chichester, sent a letter to the Baltimore solicitor's office claiming that the city owes the relatives "substantial redress." The rationale: If Mr. O'Malley and the police department hadn't encouraged the Dawsons to speak out against the drug dealers, they wouldn't have died.

This is simply outrageous. Instead of targeting the profits of the criminals and drug dealers who made the city unsafe and murdered the Dawsons, Mr. Cochran, in his zeal for headline-hunting publicity, is blaming the city for attempting to make its citizens safer. Who would pay the bill to settle this case? The taxpayers. His view of "justice" is a perverse one, indeed.

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