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.

First Dan Rodricks and now Dana Vickers Shelley of the American Civil Liberties Union (“Maryland leaders, will you take a pledge to support black kids?” May 30). The word "criminal” is not racist. If you look up the meaning in any dictionary, it will not indicate that it is used with reference to any particular race or group of people. Instead, it refers to one who breaks a law and certainly some of the youths involved in the Inner Harbor disturbance last week fit that description.

But Mr. Rodricks (“A few kids behaved badly at the Inner Harbor. What would you suggest?” May 29) and Ms. Shelley would steer us away from any frank discussion of race, just as WJZ-TV did in summarily firing Mary Bubala who was simply, although perhaps inartfully, looking to engage in one. We cannot point out that the majority of homicides in Baltimore are committed by blacks without being labelled as racists. We cannot have a discussion about the causes of crime, the rates of incarceration among the races and the prevalence of single-parent households among the races without being labelled as "racist."

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Apologists like Mr. Rodricks and Ms. Shelley would have us paper over matters of race. We will never solve our many and serious problems that way. And, in the interim, suburban families will continue to avoid the city out of concern for their safety and to the detriment of the businesses and entertainment options located there.

William T. Define, Lutherville

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