Bill Otis at Crime and Consequences calls attention to a Washington Post story that I think demonstrates the bankruptcy of the Justice Department’s desired approach to policing Baltimore and other big cities. The story tells of two conferences that occurred simultaneously in a Baltimore church.
In one room, concerned black residents of crime-ridden neighborhoods desperately called on the police to clear the streets of drug dealers and other thugs. Meanwhile, as Bill puts it, “a group of We-Know-Better DOJ lawyers (presumably with Harvard and Stanford degrees in hand) were in the room across the hall undermining their hopes.”
Here is how Washington Post reporter Peter Hermann puts it:
They’d come to the same church on the same night to confront the same quandary facing this city’s beleaguered police department. But what they wanted from the police couldn’t have been more different.
Eight days had passed since the Justice Department issued a scathing review of the Baltimore Police Department, detailing years of racial discrimination in its law enforcement practices.
Yet the 40 or so longtime residents who gathered in a West Baltimore church basement on this August night — many of whom were older black women afraid to walk to the store or leave their homes at night — had come to urge police to clear their corners of miscreants and restore order to their crime-plagued community.
“Please, help me,” pleaded gas station owner Chaudhry Masood, whose parking lot has been overrun by loiterers and where a 17-year-old was recently shot and killed.
That’s what these law-abiding residents wanted. However:
At the same time, in an adjacent church hall, Justice Department civil rights attorneys were discussing how to overhaul the police department with another group of residents intent on curbing the abusive behavior of corner-clearing cops. Those attending included black youths long targeted by police.
No doubt the “black youths” told the DOJ lawyers what they came to hear — that they are victims. It might have been instructive to check the criminal records of these “victims.” One of them told Hermann he had three marijuana arrests. For some, three marijuana arrests might well be the tip of the iceberg.
The views of law abiding residents notwithstanding, the Obama administration believes that Baltimore cops are over-policing certain neighborhoods. However, Hermann points out that the area where the two conferences took place, though the smallest of the city’s seven patrol areas, has the city’s highest crime rates. In 2015, there were 66 killings in the district’s 2.8 square miles, the highest among the patrol areas.
The Department of Justice thinks that the Baltimore police should pay more attention to wealthier neighborhoods where, it believes, whites use illegal drugs to about the same degree as blacks in poorer neighborhoods. However, in these neighborhoods, people aren’t being murdered at alarming rates. In these neighborhoods, people aren’t afraid to walk the streets. In these neighborhoods, residents aren’t begging the police to restore order.
It’s disgraceful that the Obama Justice Department has taken the side of those who are making poor, predominantly black neighborhoods unsafe and virtually unlivable, while selling out those who obey the law and simply want the type of order and tranquility that most whites enjoy.