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Complaints about Baltimore crime often miss the mark entirely

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 president, Sgt. Mike Mancuso, stirred controversy on social media on Saturday night. He wrote on Twitter that some of the youths are “criminals” after officers arrested some people while responding to a large crowd at the Inner Harbor.

I read Jerry Cothran's letters (“Weak response to Inner Harbor mayhem hurts Baltimore’s reputation,” May 31 and “There was no racial profiling at the Inner Harbor,” June 3) and had to respond because I get so tired of reading letters like these.

There are several comments he made that I completely do not agree with.

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First, contrary to his statement that "the threat of violent criminal behavior is rampant in all of our neighborhoods,” the majority of Baltimore neighborhoods are safe places to live, work and enjoy life. I have lived in Baltimore for over 25 years and feel as safe now as I did when I moved here. There are a few neighborhoods where it is more dangerous to live, and it is unfair that the good people who live in those neighborhoods have to be afraid. But most of Baltimore is not like that, and I know it first hand.

Second, the reason that FOP President Mike Mancuso's statement was condemned was because he used stereotypes: "don't fall into the trap that they are only kids.” I read the news reports and the vast majority were just young folks down there to see their friends and hang out in one of the few places left for them to hang out in in public. A few teenagers engaged in criminal behavior, not "some" as he said. Probably 99% of the teenagers were well-behaved.

Finally, if these had been white kids, there is no way the reaction would have been more harsh, as Mr. Cothran stated. Many white people are quick to feel fear around black kids that they would not feel if the kids had been white. I think we need to replace the picture in our head of a large group of black teenagers with a large group of white teenagers and see if our gut feeling is different.

Bottom line, I love Baltimore City and agree with the other letter writer, Lee Mintz, that Bishme Cromartie has made me proud to live in Baltimore (“Bishme Cromartie a Baltmore booster on ‘Project Runway,’” June 4).

Sarah Woods, Baltimore

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