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Jesse Owens

A return to '90s carnage in Baltimore

A return to '90s carnage in Baltimore

The skyrocketing deaths in Baltimore look eerily familiar to those of us who survived the carnage of young black men in the '90s.

Back then, I was the laid back guy in the crew, but my friends thought I was playing a dangerous game. Instead of wearing my bulletproof vest every day in the streets of Baltimore, most of the time, I kept it in the trunk of my car. I hated it. It was bulky and uncomfortable, and I thought it was unnecessary. My friends would constantly tell me that I was being stupid and foolish. But the way I looked at it back then, I was a tough guy, so I didn't really need it — right?

I started selling dime bags of heroin in the '80s as a teen-ager. By...