- The Washington Times - Monday, April 27, 2015


There’s much to be concerned and frightened about in Baltimore following a prayerful Sunday and funeral Monday, when Baltimore police warned law enforcers that the Crips, Bloods and Black Guerrilla Family are joining forces to “take out” police officers.

By the time the remains of Freddie Gray had been buried in God’s green earth and school kids began making their way home Monday afternoon, ne’er-do-wells began changing the tenor of events that have consumed “Charm City” since Mr. Gray died from injuries he sustained in police custody earlier this month.

Let us pray.

While there is certainly much ado about something, what should be startling every black and brown person in America is why the rioters tear down their own.

They loot their own communities.

They destroy property in areas they frequent and depend on for food and other needs.

They taunt, attack and disrespect the very public-safety servants who are sworn to protect them and their families.

It’s as if they forget that the officers in riot gear and police cruisers are the same ones they want — and expect — to come to their rescue when they dial 911.

And to know that ne’er-do-wells heard the mayor, the black mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, seemingly, perhaps inadvertently, ring the bell Sunday for what happened Monday is noteworthy, too.

“I’ve made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech,” the mayor said at a press conference. “It’s a very delicate balancing act, because we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate, and that’s what you saw.”


The criminal element translated that to mean free rein, just like the characters in “The Wire” — the gritty HBO drama about the war on drugs in Baltimore that aired from 2002 to 2008.

The main story thread of the cable series focused on the illegal drug trade and homicides, and in 2004 turned toward legalization and giving criminals their “space” — within the parameters of a few uninhabited city blocks so that drug dealers could do what they do. The episode, titled “Hamsterdam” and written by D.C. native George Pelecanos, aired in October 2004, while Ms. Rawlings-Blake was serving as vice president of the Baltimore City Council.

What Ms. Rawlings-Blake must explain in front of the cameras and with the media delivering her unfiltered message is how, as mayor, a black mayor, she intends to draw the line.

She is the leader of Baltimore, and the residents and other stakeholders in the city expect to see and hear her act like a leader — not a fictional character on a groundbreaking TV show.

The lack of “space” is not what is threatening Baltimore. The lack of leadership is.

Ms. Rawlings-Blake, with a multitude of clergy at her back and the law at her side, needs to stiffen her spine and do the right thing. Frankly, her political legacy depends on how she handles this unfolding crisis.

The people trying to wreck her career and tear up the city she has promised to rebuild from the days of “The Wire” are young hoodlums and criminals, some of them barely in their teens.

If Ms. Rawlings-Blake — a mayor, a black mayor — doesn’t have the nerve to tell parents to hold themselves and their children accountable or she will, then blacks have again lost the battle to the gangs.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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