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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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

pdavis@baltsun.com

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