According to The Sun ("Baltimore Mayor Young suggests boxing bouts to settle street beefs," June 2), Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young recently proposed an answer to soaring murders that we haven't heard before. We are all rooting for our new mayor and city residents are looking for creative and effective ideas. But Mayor Young's proposal to stage boxing matches to address surging violence in Baltimore is an insulting minimization of the horror unfolding on our streets.
Violence in Baltimore is driven by a billion-dollar drug market, built atop generational poverty, soaring addiction rates, lack of opportunity and decades of disinvestment. We are not confronted with a bar fight or a duel over honor — organized gangs are using high-caliber weaponry and head-shots to execute one another. Indeed nearly 60% of last year's 309 murder victims were shot in the head. So, expanded recreational centers can help occupy and create outlets for our children. But boxing matches are no answer to a brutal, unrelenting war that has claimed thousands of lives, as ruthless gangs and narcotics organizations fight over billions of dollars in heroin money and drug turf.
We certainly need more jobs and opportunities for our kids, more investment in schools and recreational centers, more focus on prevention and diversion and reentry. But to end the bloodshed now, we must also focus on replenishing the ranks of the police department, conducting proactive gang investigations, taking violent juvenile crime seriously and reminding ourselves that what is unfolding in Baltimore is worse than anything we’ve faced before and deserves to be treated like the five-alarm catastrophe that it is.
Thiru Vignarajah, Baltimore
The writer, a Democrat, is a candidate for mayor.