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'The city is functioning': Ex officio Mayor Jack Young tours Baltimore neighborhood that saw double homicide

Ex officio Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young walks through a neighborhood recently affected by violence and talks about the need for everybody to help reduce crime in Baltimore. (Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun video)

Ex officio Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young called on residents to cooperate with police more as he and Baltimore police officers on Wednesday night toured the Broadway East neighborhood where two people were shot and killed last week.

During his second “Violence Reduction Initiative” since taking office April 1, Young looked to keep the focus on crime reduction.

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The acting mayor did field some questions about his decision to place Mayor Catherine Pugh’s chief of staff and top lobbyist on leave.

Pugh — who has been on a leave of absence since April 1 to recover from pneumonia — has been under fire for her deal to sell her series of “Healthy Holly” children’s books to the University of Maryland Medical System, where she was on the board of directors.

Left to right, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison watches as Baltimore ex officio Mayor Jack Young stops to shake Tria Taylor's hand as city officials take a walking tour of the Broadway East neighborhood as part of the Violence Reduction Initiative (VRI).
Left to right, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison watches as Baltimore ex officio Mayor Jack Young stops to shake Tria Taylor's hand as city officials take a walking tour of the Broadway East neighborhood as part of the Violence Reduction Initiative (VRI). (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Young said he had not chosen someone to replace Karen Stokes, Pugh’s top lobbyist, but tried to bring the focus back to crime in Broadway East.

“The city is functioning. I’m at the helm,” he said.

He and police commissioner Michael Harrison surveyed the surrounding area, starting in the 1800 block of N. Chester St., where two people were shot to death April 10.

Diarah Baxter, 21, and Marcus Alston, 20, died last Wednesday in a shooting on the very block city officials met to start the tour. A 19-year-old was also injured in the shooting.

Front, left to right, Jason Hessler, deputy commissioner for permits and litigation in the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development and Baltimore ex officio Mayor Jack Young discuss properties as Councilman Robert Stokes Sr. of District 12 listens.
Front, left to right, Jason Hessler, deputy commissioner for permits and litigation in the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development and Baltimore ex officio Mayor Jack Young discuss properties as Councilman Robert Stokes Sr. of District 12 listens. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Young could be heard talking with police officers about which abandoned houses were planned for demolition, a point he made in a brief speech before touring the neighborhood.

He also called on the community to help police with their investigations, saying, “We can’t put police on every corner.”

As the large group of police officers and city officials walked through the neighborhood — also going down North Collington Avenue and briefly turning onto North Street — residents stepped outside their homes to talk with the acting mayor.

Others peered out from windows and, with a large police presence surrounding the group, some groups dispersed as the gathering walked down the middle of the streets.

Left to right, Councilman Robert Stokes Sr. and ex officio Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young listen as Reginald Addison speaks to them about troubles with garbage pickup in Broadway East.
Left to right, Councilman Robert Stokes Sr. and ex officio Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young listen as Reginald Addison speaks to them about troubles with garbage pickup in Broadway East. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Young looked to connect with area residents and said he wanted to see a city more willing to speak with the police about the issues in their neighborhoods.

“There’s a people problem and people need to step up to the plate,” he said. “I mean, this ‘stop snitching’ mentality in the city of Baltimore has got to stop.”

Police have yet to report an arrest in the double homicide.

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