Brace yourselves. Baltimore is a pressure cooker, and its lid is ready to blow off.
Thank goodness the Baltimore Ravens will take on the Browns in Cleveland on Nov. 30, the day the first of six police officers goes on trial in the death of Freddie Gray. Charm City doesn’t need to repeat what happened with the Orioles, who had to lock themselves in and shut the public out of a game because violence and mayhem had erupted.
There’s no word yet on what the street plan is for pretrial weekend, by which time even some generally peace-abiding Baltimoreans will be fed up with Thanksgiving leftovers and out-of-school kids, while the media gear up for their obligations, which will include rehashing ugly events that began the day Gray was buried (April 27) and preparing for the opening salvos of the much-anticipated trials.
In recent days, we’ve seen and heard what’s stirring anew.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake blamed everyone and everything but herself, her rudderless policies and her Democratic Party during an Oct. 7 press conference at the National Press Club in Washington.
We’ve read and heard about America’s rising tide of violence and the post-Freddie Gray impact it’s having on law enforcers, such as the Baltimore cop who targeted a suspect with his spittle. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel this week blamed Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, saying that the pushes there for police accountability have made law enforcers go “fetal.” In short, another Democratic stronghold hides behind the blue line without holding itself accountable.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who ran Baltimore from 1999 to 2007 and now wants to be president, could not get out of his own way at the Democratic candidates debate. Told by CNN moderator Anderson Cooper that a fellow Democrat pointed a finger at his zero-tolerance policies as mayor, Mr. O’Malley responded: “Yes, actually, I believe what she said was that there’s a lot of policies that have led to this unrest.”
The “she” he referred to is none other than State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby, who is prosecuting the six Baltimore cops and is a Democrat with political aspirations. Mrs. Mosby’s family DNA is deeply embedded in the thin blue line in her home state of Massachusetts.
Other events this week prove that politics is pushing disgust in the wrong direction. The most newsworthy was an overnight sit-in and arrests in Baltimore City Hall, where protesters derided a council committee’s approval of Kevin Davis as police commissioner. Mrs. Rawlings-Blake appointed Commissioner Davis as interim chief after firing Anthony Batts this summer.
The panel’s vote on the Davis appointment was 5-2; Mrs. Mosby’s husband, council member Nick Mosby, was one of the naysayers and is considering a run for mayor now that Mrs. Rawlings-Blake has announced she is not seeking reelection. The final council vote on the Davis appointment is set for Oct. 26.
Still, there’s more news forthcoming: On Friday, the liberal-progressive Center for American Progress and former NAACP chief Ben Jealous plan to release a six-point plan to “reform police misconduct” — code words for anti-zero tolerance. The plan calls for police body cameras, which the Obama administration endorsed with federal kickbacks, and officer training to mitigate and de-escalate potentially violent situations.
Good fellas don’t need training: They see a one-on-one situation and employ a de-escalation technique that eliminates “the problem.”
That’s what’s happening in Ferguson and Baltimore, and New York and Chicago. Good cops are competing with good fellas, and good people are caught in the crossfire.
There are people among us hoping wide-scale disorder erupts over the teensiest of offenses, and that’s scary enough.
That there are people among us planning wide-scale disorder before the gavel taps the block in the first post-Freddie Gray trial is scarier.
Little by little, bad policies and ineffective politicians have built up discontent in the pressure cooker called Baltimore, and the lid could blow off.
Everybody, brace yourselves.
• Deborah Simmons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.