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We Don’t Give A Damn About Apathy

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It was to be a “historic lie-in event,” organizers promised, with enough people to represent Baltimore’s homicide victims, 246 so far this year. They were to dress in identical “No More Murders” T-shirts and sprawl on the plaza in front of City Hall.

But closer to 175 people were there yesterday. The ground was soaked from rain, so they stood, holding papers bearing the numbers. Organizers had abandoned the T-shirt idea last week, fearing that not enough people would be there to wear them.

Elected officials were invited; none came. College students were invited; there were few young faces.

This kind of cheesy street theater has been in vogue on the left since “Billy Jack” hit drive-ins across the country. When I lived in DC during the crack epidemic, a near neighbor in Blagden Alley thought the answer to the homicide problem was to shame the killers by drawing chalk outlines of bodies, one per homicide, on the pavement in front of his house. Worked real well.

The problem with the homicide rate, both the low clearance rate by its homicide unit and the lack of concern by the populace, is that most of Baltimore’s homicides are essentially business disputes within the criminal element. Because a good portion of the victims are actively involved in crime, or are involved on its periphery, most of the city residents don’t feel personally threatened by the violence and the police don’t have any great institutional pressure on them to either solve or prevent these killings.

Where residents turn out for psychodramatic expressions is when they feel threatened. So long as the killers stay in their lane and don’t bother the average citizen they know that the odds of their handiwork being professionally investigated, much less solved, goes way down.






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