The Mail 5/6/15


Helena Hicks wrote in her essay about "The World Freddie Gray Came From,": "It's had a history of violence, and violence over drugs, since the 1940s. In the years since, virtually no resources have ever been put into the neighborhood, and it became a drug neighborhood. . . .The city has consistently done nothing to help this area."

Yet the Washington Post, three days later, ran a major story that stated, in part: "Sandtown-Winchester is crumbling, and there is little to suggest that two decades ago visionary developer James Rouse and city officials injected more than $130 million into the community in a failed effort to transform it. Instead there are block after block of boarded-up houses and too many people with little hope.


'It's frustrating,' said Stefanie DeLuca, a Johns Hopkins University sociologist who has studied the neighborhood. 'How much money would it take? It certainly seems on an instinctual level that $100 million should have made some difference.' . . .

The effort to revive Sandtown was massive. More than 1,000 homes were eventually renovated or built. Schools were bolstered. Education and health services were launched."


So either the Washington Post is lying, or the City Paper is choosing to run missives from activists willfully and malevolently blind to the real action of the exact same type they demand.

Given that such large sums have been "invested" so fruitlessly, one should rightfully question whether attempting to further nourish a dead tree is the proper answer, or whether digging up the dead tree and replacing it with another plant is the prudent course of action. The adage that come to mind is "when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging."

Alexander D. Mitchell IV

Thank you for your rather excellent coverage of the protests around the Freddie Gray murder. It was quite a relief to see your article, "How Drunk Sports Fans Helped Spark Saturday Night's Violence." I was there and I had a panoramic view of what happened. I want to make it clear as crystal and I would testify under oath to this: "The first objects were thrown by white men wearing orange." While watching this malice unfold before my very eyes, I said to myself: "You've got to be kidding me! How stupid could the men wearing orange get?" What was once an overwhelmingly peaceful march now began to spiral out of control. The Saturday march was publicized days in advance. What a damn shame the protesters caused a little bit of inconvenience for some Baltimore Oriole fans! BLACK LIVES MATTER!

It's too bad the Orioles' management didn't hold a game in an empty stadium on Saturday instead of doing so four days later on Wednesday.  It would have prevented a lot of violence. Perhaps the Orioles can make up for their collective lack of foresight and respect by giving a free season pass to anyone from Freddie Gray's neighborhood and all the other folks in Baltimore who have been directly affected by police violence and invest some of the millions of dollars they make off of Baltimore residents back into Baltimore's low-income neighborhoods!

Dan Greifenberger

Mr. Soderberg, are you delusional? Have you not viewed the hundreds of videos on YouTube showing the protesters that were violently attacking people and vehicles? Did you not see the car that was accosted, that drove backwards swerving at dangerously fast speeds because they were afraid for their lives? Did you not see bricks, chairs, security gates, and trash cans thrown at people? Did you not see the property destruction that was occuring by your “Peaceful Protesters”? I find it so sad that the liberal media has to side with the liberal views of today and print or report what they think is the politically correct thing to say rather than pointing out that our society is spinning out of control, and it’s time that we all take a step back to re-evaluate our morals and respect for others. Shame on you Mr. Soderberg and shame on The City Paper for allowing such a false and defamatory article to be printed and released. Our media plays a huge part in the erosion of our societal views and actions by “promoting” social problems in such a distorted manner, and it’s people like you that help to propagate this type of violence by printing a B.S. article such as this.

Kim Pratta

This letter is about the riots on April 27, 2015, not the death of Freddie Gray or police brutality.

What has been missing in the conversation about the riots on the 27th is that most of the participants were high school and college students. These young people may have been angry over the death of Freddie Gray and police brutality, but that is not the reason they rioted, burned, and looted. The real reason for this behavior is bad parenting.

Too often the cycle of bad parenting affects our city. Everyday in Baltimore a young woman gets pregnant and is not ready to become a mother. She will depend upon government services and will likely drop out of school. Without knowledge, experience, or responsibility she will raise her child to lack these same characteristics. If the child is female, she will most likely follow in her mother's footsteps. If the child is male,  he is statistically likely to not have a father around, he will grow up troubled, jailed, or murdered. And the cycle repeats.

Children born in this situation live in a state of confusion that ultimately leads to anger. They learn not to respect any authority, because as they mature they realize that for various reasons (jail, incomplete education, drug and alcohol problems, domestic violence) their main authority figure(s) are not worthy of respect. The only time they "learn" if their behavior is bad is when is when a bigger person (Mom, Dad, Grandma, or whoever) hits them. They internalize the belief that, "If I'm not being hit, my behavior must be okay." And the end result? Adults that don't know how to parent and children that don't know how to be children and instead turn to violence.

The solution is simple but unpalatable by many: take responsibility for your reproduction. If you aren't ready to get pregnant, get and use birth control. If you're pregnant and not ready to be a mother, have an abortion. If you can't properly parent your children, stop having more, and read a book or take a class.

Who is to blame for the riot on the 27th? Parents that don't know how or don't care to do their jobs.

Todd Ebeling

I'm a fiftysomething white guy living in an overwhelmingly black Baltimore City neighborhood.  Moved here about five years ago from Columbia.  You know what suburbia is like:  married couples,  two children, an SUV, a golden retriever, lots of wide, open spaces . . . In the 15 years living there, I only knew two neighbors. I was hoping to be accepted, or at least left alone in my new neighborhood. But you know what?  I was more than accepted—I was welcomed. I love my neighbors (at least most of them) and apparently, some percentage of them they love me back.

Over time I became educated to what it means to be black in this city. So many friends—good, hard-working family-oriented people—have shared their stories of run-ins with the police over insignificant or nonexistent matters. To be clear, I'm not saying it's all targeted against blacks. Just being a citizen of the city puts you at risk. I'm also not saying all cops are problems—I know a few, and they seem like OK guys, except . . .


Lately I've been thinking about cause and effect. I think about the minority of citizens that are problems, and recently, I've been thinking about the minority of cops whose actions hurt not only the community but their fellow officers.

Baltimore City doesn't have a police force in the classical sense—we have an occupying force. The law is whatever they tell you it is, because they have the power, if not the moral or legal authority to arrest you. If they tell you to move along, you move along, even if there's no legal reason for the order. And be careful filming them in public, lest you risk your own life. You haven't seen this? Then you either haven't come into the city, or you roll through with your windows up, your doors locked, and your eyes looking straight ahead.


No need to police with your mind. There's a saying: "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Well, if all you have is a gun, a Taser, and a club, then everything must look like a target. No need to reason with folks. You were issued weapons—use them.

My grandfather was a lifelong cop. I loved him dearly, and he died when I was just a teen.  Mom will be furious to read this, but I sometimes worry what type of cop he was. The possibilities frighten me.

Back to cause and effect. There was a time when patrol cars were two-man units. If one of you spotted a problem, your partner was right there to back you up. There was a sense of security—after all, policing can be dangerous. But what if you're riding solo, as most police do today? You're out there alone. Your adrenaline is pumping and when you call for backup, your fellow officers come running. They don't know how serious the situation is, but you're part of the thin blue line, and they need to protect you. It's pile-on time. How many times have you seen three or four patrol cars at a scene? Maybe they should ride in pairs. Save money and keep your blood pressure down all at the same time.

Before coming into the city, I never heard of the "No Snitching" thing. What's that? You don't rat out your drug-dealing friends or neighbors, you keep your mouth shut, and you never, ever talk to cops. The cops want you to trust them. Tell them what you know, even if they can't necessarily protect you, because it's the right thing to do. And there are insanely brave, admirable people that do just that. They risk their lives out of sense of duty or faith or whatever.

Now's time for a little reciprocity. If you're a cop, and you witnessed excessive use of force, then it's time you stepped out in front of that thin blue line and let your voice be told. It will be the hardest thing you've ever done or will do, in your life. You'll probably never work on a police force again, but maybe, just maybe, you'll sleep better at night.

Curt Schwartz 
From the Web, Facebook, and Twitter

Crock of sh!t... A police car cost more than a human life? You have to be kidding...

— “Amanda Charlotte,” May 1

A major part of bail review is the threat of fleeing. I'm not saying one bail is better or worse than the other. I'm just saying if the judge feels you are a threat to flee, your bail will be higher. Now I have no information to ascertain whether or not the bails for both are reasonable or unreasonable, but I'd imagine it would likely be the reason for the major difference between the two bails.

— “Bill Kassakatis,” May 1


— “Hope Brakebill,” April 29

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