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No code of silence can protect the killer of a child

The code of silence on Baltimore’s streets has protected many who have done despicable deeds, but none more than those whose depravity results in the death of a child.

We witnessed it four years ago when 3-year-old McKenzie Elliott was struck by a stray bullet and killed in Waverly. It was broad daylight. Multiple witnesses doubtless saw what happened, yet it took four years and a federal indictment before anyone would be charged with the crime.

We saw it in 2013, when 1-year-old Carter Scott was fatally shot in the backseat of a car his father was driving. Yet Rashaw Scott only appeared in court to testify against the men accused in the crime — men who had apparently been targeting him — after a judge issued a warrant. He claimed on the witness stand not to recognize his own signature on a photo lineup of the suspects.

And this week, with the death of 7-year-old Taylor Hayes, it’s happening again. She, too, was shot in the backseat of a car, and she struggled for two weeks before her death on Thursday. The cousin of Hayes’ mother was driving the car, and her own daughter was in the backseat, too, yet she is reportedly refusing to cooperate with police. The woman, Darnell Holmes, is being held without bail on gun and drug charges.

When Congress failed to take action after the Sandy Hook mass shooting, in which two dozen elementary school children were senselessly killed, many despaired that we would ever see meaningful gun control. And when children are gunned down on the streets of Baltimore and no one is willing to speak up to bring their killers to justice, it is difficult to muster any hope that the city’s cycle of street justice, of violence and retribution, will ever be broken.

Someone needs to step up and prove that something matters more than Baltimore’s code of silence. What is protecting Taylor Hayes’ killer is pure cowardice. Someone needs to show courage.

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