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How guards should describe downtown youth is a foolish distraction

How guards should describe downtown youth is a foolish distraction
Downtown Baltimore might have more pressing concerns that the exact wording of a security guard's warning about unruly young people. (Lloyd Fox/The Baltimore Sun)

What a very odd, unhelpful editorial on Saturday (“Black kids are scavengers and predators,” April 19).

A security guard posts an alert that five African-American teens wearing blue jeans and black hoodies were targeting Caucasians with scavenging and predatory behavior. Presumably, with this level of detail, the alert also included a location, time and direction of travel. In my 30-year experience in criminal defense in Baltimore, that’s as much or more detail than one gets in many initial complaints whether from citizens or trained law enforcement. Just what more do you want from a security officer? Names and addresses? Spell it out, please.

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I for one don’t extrapolate that at all to describing “any black boy who happens to find his way downtown.” You may not know or have forgotten that groups of teenagers, especially boys, have been shown in at least one big study years ago to engage in occasional mindless, irrationally disrespectful and sometimes violent behavior when in group mode, possibly because their hormones and immaturity lead them into exactly the sort of stupid bad behavior described here but shielded from ruining their lives by developmentally aware juvenile courts. That doesn’t mean the public should sit around and be victimized by the poor judgment of youth engaged in a cycle of one-upmanship with each other while the witnessing security officers discuss just how to word an all-points bulletin. We pay security officers to be there and to respond quickly because they’re needed, unfortunately.

Councilman Eric Costello is right to cut Downtown Partnership some slack amid the social media flak. It is undeserved here and not fairly comparable to Pat McDonough’s hyperbole which, oddly enough, is actually closer to your own editorial’s headline.

Sometimes something just is what it is. Couldn’t you have picked another topic to editorialize about like the growing “420” (marijuana) legalization movement, how much of downtown is going to be flooded by global warming, or the 20th anniversary of the Columbine school murders (since replicated far too many times)? I look forward to better from Maryland’s last general daily newspaper!

Lou Curran, Baltimore

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