By Doni Glover, Publisher
(BALTIMORE – January 5, 2023) – The entire city is talking about Ivan Bates’ inauguration speech. I was watching it, but I got distracted by gunshots and touting outside my window. I did see the mayor and the police commissioner. I have learned from some of the best psychologists in the world who have reiterated over the years the significance of body language. The psychologists I am referring to are former felons. I have learned that nobody studies people more than inmates, and body language is indeed a form of communication. How we present ourselves says a lot about us.
The police commissioner had a look on his face, if you ask me, that says he is tired and probably ready to go.
Like many of you, I love Baltimore. This is the city in which I was born and raised. Minus two years in Atlanta at Morehouse and Georgia State University, I have spent the other 55 years in the Greater Baltimore Metropolitan area. Hence, I have a vested interest in seeing this city be all that it can be.
However, something is fundamentally wrong here. I can’t quite put my finger on whom this includes, but somebody likes Baltimore’s dysfunctionality. Further, somebody is seriously prospering off of it.
A young brother from Brooklyn, New York recently told me that he thinks Baltimore is nothing. Y’all knowing me, I began to articulate some of the unique Black historical facts about this city that he knew nothing about, including some of the connections between our two cities. Later, after further pondering our interaction and the idiocy of his comment, I thought about the fact that this young man goes to college in Baltimore, and that he works in Baltimore. So if Baltimore is nothing, then why is he here?
Having some knowledge of the history of Blacks in New York including Seneca Village in Manhattan and Weeksville in Brooklyn, I understand that it was merely a teachable moment and I hope I did a good job enlightening him. Similarly, right now in Baltimore – even the situation yesterday with the Edmondson-Westside student, Deanta Dorsey, who was tragically killed across the street from the school in the strip mall, this is a teachable moment: The Consent Decree has caused cops to fall back – right or wrong, and until we face that reality – that the Consent Decree is in the way of them doing their jobs, then nothing will change. It has to be revisited. (Baltimore has one of the most complex consent decrees but remains on track, federal judge says)
Let me explain. Commissioner Harrison was brought here under the Pugh Administration for the sole purpose of overseeing the implementation of the federal Consent Decree mandated as a result of the Freddie Gray Uprising. In 2015, Gray’s death sparked a great darkness not seen in 47 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.
It was the ugliest day in the lives of countless Baltimoreans. Nonetheless, the primary focus in Baltimore law enforcement since then has been better policing or cleaning up the violent, racist policing as demonstrated by the notorious Gun Police Task Force. These rogue cops unleashed a terror on these streets not seen before. All kinds of illegal actions occurred. Truth be told, they were sanctioned from high places within the police department.
The focus has not been on fighting … crime.
Parallel Theory: The cops got mad because they got G-checked and have since taken a knee. You know, typical narcissistic ego-type shit.
Put differently, the good cops are suffering because of bad cops. Much the same as law-abiding citizens “surrounded by criminals, Heavy rollers, even the sheisty individuals.” The good have to suffer with the bad.
So, the new Baltimore City State’s Attorney said in his speech that he insists that Commissioner Harrison feel more empowered than during the days of the previous State’s Attorney, Marilyn Mosby.
It was like a wand was being waved and now we’re about to see change.
Fox 45 and certain former prosecutors and police personnel repeatedly blame Mosby on most every broadcast for the crime in Baltimore. I don’t think it is fair, considering it all.
I think it is absolutely ludicrous and I don’t like this lie being proliferated as if it is true. They can tell a lie so much that people come to believe it. Mind you, these are some of the same people who pushed Question K on term limits: racists who hate and fear Black power.
Now, I’m not going to sit up here and act as though I liked everything about the career of Mrs. Mosby. I supported both Russell Neverdon and Ivan Bates in two consecutive political campaigns against her and lost. Frankly, as this last election came around, there was no way on God’s green earth that I was going to challenge her a third time, especially after all of the stuff she’s gone through. Fox tried to bully her and she fought back. While I didn’t agree with her a lot, I respect her.
As Fox 45 vociferously attacked her on every single broadcast while simultaneously endorsing Thiru Vignarajah, a perennial candidate who has run for two different citywide offices, and lost, and was interestingly twice caught in embarrassing sex scandals, including one during a campaign season that jeopardized the careers of Baltimore City Police officers.
Through all of the mess, Mosby showed me something I had not seen in her before. Don’t get me wrong, charging the officers was a huge step. She stepped right into history.
I thought, however, that it was not cool to have charged the Black cops, but that’s another story.
Most recently, I was impressed when Mosby stated with supreme conviction: “I am built for this!”
For me, that was like Reggie Jackson hitting the three home runs in Game 6 of the ’77 World Series.
Jackson could relate to what’s currently happening in Baltimore because he, like Mosby, has tasted the ugliness of the powers that be. Sheila Dixon has tasted it, too. Dan Henson felt the fire when he was Housing Commissioner. Robert Lee Clay definitely paid the supreme cost. Most any vocal Black with testicular fortitude is going to feel the brunt of Baltimore’s ugliest, most diabolical characters.
There has long been those who fear Black people who have a spine, like Dr. Barney Wilson, the first Black principal at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. And so their fear creates, for instance, a police force psyche that hasn’t quite healed from the trauma experienced during the riots of ’68.
Policing on the streets for the past 8 years has been real Beverly Hills-like.
The question we all face right now is whether or not the cops will finally get off their knees.
Will real policing happen in Baltimore? Well, that’s a question we all ponder daily, especially in these streets that are taking lives, like the young man yesterday.
If Baltimore is going to get better, finger-pointing is not going to accomplish it. The only way this thing gets done is through excellent leadership. Wes Moore has this same but larger mountain now in front of him, as does incoming Attorney General Anthony Brown. If we are to get better, then the right people have to step up and make some very difficult choices because something has to change. Otherwise, this is all insanity: Doing the same thing and expecting a different result. For Mayor Brandon Scott, Gov. Moore, A.G. Brown, and our new cadre of Black politicians, I pray that they keep God first and foremost in their lives.
As for the Consent Decree: intentional or not, it has shifted officers’ attention away from crime for 8 years to a “kinder, gentler” mode. Baltimore ain’t that kind of place. Kumbaya doesn’t work just like zero tolerance. The answer is in the middle. So, I want to believe former top cop Rick Hite, who is a ginormous Bates fan, that the much-needed change is here. I really want to, but I don’t know. It’s ‘wait and see’ if anything.
This is what I do know: All of the speeches, TV opps, social media postings, and visits to all of the halfway houses, homeless shelters, and drug rehab facilities in the world won’t change our condition if we are not all on board.
For me, there are deeper forces at work in Baltimore most of us will never fathom. I also think there is a direct correlation in this 9-to-1 Democratic city, as my homeboy, Keith, so perfectly noted, between “all of the failing schools, the drugs, political and police scandals, decaying recreation centers, welfare policies like ‘no man in the house’, and mass incarceration marked by 70% recidivism, and fatherlessness where institutional racism is the common denominator.” So is greed.