By Doni Glover, Publisher
Unapologetically Black: Doni Glover Autobiography
The Doni Glover Show on WOLB 1010 AM (Thurs. 11a-12p)
(SANDTOWN – February 7, 2020) – I am a journalist who lives in Sandtown, a Historic West Baltimore community with a lot of history, pride and roots. Former Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke was the last chief of the city to pay any real attention here, and that was more than 20 years ago. Back then, this 72-square block swath of territory was the rising gem and quintessential example for neighborhood transformation. Only one thing went wrong though. Community residents were never in-charge. So, when Schmoke left, the attention left.
Today, Sandtown is a regressive shell of the progress made 20 years ago. Many have died off. Some were killed. Others simply moved. The bottom line is that we now have one of the largest concentrations of vacants in the city. And, of course, vacants become a hazard because they attract narcotics – selling, buying, and using.
This situation was exacerbated in my little part of Sandtown when the last Mayor, our beloved Catherine Elizabeth Pugh, became sick of looking at “Tent City” camped in front of City Hall and decided to move this first cadre of homeless people into the former William Pinderhughes Elementary School, which is at the end of my block.
We used to have three elementary schools. Now, we are down to one. Frankly, this former school should be an empowerment center. It is one block from Pennsylvania Avenue. And if any of our elected officials cared, they would know that putting a homeless shelter one block from an open-air drug market is just not a good idea.
Now, originally, this shelter was supposed to be inside the former Pinderhughes for three months. That was 2016. Nearly four whole years later, the homeless shelter at Laurens and Fremont gets daily emergency personnel calls. According to community residents living around this building, this shelter has made nearly 700 9-1-1 calls in the past year.
The situation is horrible, particularly when you add in the hundreds of new white homeless addicts who have swarmed Sandtown like an invasion army. We even find them trolling our allies all hours of day and night. Ever since the Consent Decree came into play, white addicts are everywhere. Before the Consent Decree, cops were on them like “white on rice”. They knew not to come here. Nowadays, white guys are boppin’ up the street like the homeboys. This is unprecedented.
While Fox 45 Anchor Kai Jackson and his partner-in-crime, Mary Bubala, mention the “Squeegee Kids” every single night, they never mention the panhandlers on our corners who take their proceeds and then come to communities like Sandtown in search of drugs around the clock.
So, did I express my concerns to then-Mayor Pugh? Yup. I also expressed my concerns to then-President of the Baltimore City Council Bernard “Jack” Young. He told me that he had shelter issues also in East Baltimore. From that, I got the impression that he had issues of his own and was not going to be of much help here in Sandtown. I must admit, though, his former President assistant, Brother Damien, was a great help on getting vacants re-boarded. We miss, Damien!
I also expressed my concerns with my Council representative, Dr. John Bullock. He was of absolutely no help. Talkin’ about clueless …! Bullock once told me that Sandtown could not get any of his support until we found a foundation to help out.
Ultimately, I do what I have to do to remedy problems in my community because my City officials are simply not interested. When I told Sheila Dixon about my dilemma, she encouraged me to not give up and to reach out to my Councilman again. And I did. I tried to be as professional as possible because I knew the world was watching.
Long story short, I know that the elected officials running Baltimore do not care about my community because of the negative stereotypes and the mountain of challenges. The interesting thing is that the elected officials are all Black. In other words, I understand if people not from the community do not understand our issues, but when that official is a Black man or a Black woman – I get truly disturbed. I want to know just why they are in office if they cannot help remedy the issues in my community.
The truth is, people like John Bullock do not care about this community. Not only him, but the vast majority of the people running for Mayor have never walked these streets. Yet, they want to be Mayor. Give me a break!
Clearly, Sheila Dixon is the only one running for Mayor who knows how to get my community back on track and immediately so. She walks these streets. She doesn’t need security or an escort. Having owned my home for the past 20 years, I don’t have time to wait for a newbies learning curve. I’ve got more pressing issues on my desk. We need change and we need it now. What we do not need are so-called leaders who are merely … “fakin’ the funk!”