The Day My ‘Crime Denial Defense’ Stopped Working
I was born in Baltimore City, as was my father, my grandfather and my great grandfather before me.
I lived in Charm City for almost 40 years, raised a family, sent my children to parochial schools, and I loved my hometown.
Here’s how it worked.
No matter what I read, or saw around me, I had to deny that crime, which grew as the city shrunk, would directly affect me and mine. It would only affect the criminals, who had a penchant for killing themselves.
This defense easily worked when my battery was stolen out of my car two times.
And it worked pretty well even when my car was also stolen, while I was working in my office downtown.
But my crime denial defense began to run thin when I came out of my house one morning and found used syringes strewn all over my sidewalk.
The same sidewalk where my two children played.
My crime denial defense had a big hole punched into it when I was held up at gunpoint one afternoon while I made the mistake of making a telephone call in a telephone booth — remember them — downtown in an area that was somewhat secluded.
I’ll never forget the thoughts that took hold of my mind when I watched one of the young black assailants hand shaking as he demanded my wallet and pushed his revolver into my heart calling me a “white motherfucker.”
Here’s a funny thing.
In middle of this violent experience a calm thought suddenly permeated my mind, which said “you’re probably going to die right here, but it will be alright.” I actually felt peaceful and quickly handed over my wallet to the robber and his partner.
Perhaps it was my calmness that saved my life.
After he took my wallet, the robber paused for a moment as though he was considering offing me on the spot.
But, for some reason he didn’t. Afterwards, the calm turned into terror. From that day forward, my hometown lost much of its glitter for me.
I guess the final experience that destroyed my crime denial defense and sent me packing to the county, was the time while driving home from work I decided to take a short cut in broad daylight on North Avenue.
I suddenly heard a round of shots being fired in quick succession. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, they went.
A hollow feeling of panic swelled up in me as I nearly ran over a young woman who was running wildly in the middle of the street for cover.
I couldn’t see where the shots were coming from, but I did see all the people including young mothers with their children, old men with canes fall to the ground to escape the flying bullets.
I stepped down on my gas peddle and went through a red light to get the hell away from this sudden burst of potentially deadly gunfire.
I remember realizing that Baltimore was actually a war zone, no different than those in the Middle East or in Africa.
I cursed the politicians and their lies.
That night I watched TV, listened to the radio and even scanned the newspaper to see what the shooting had been about.
It wasn’t even mentioned.
A friend of mine, who was an ex-cop, laughed when I told him my story. “Man, shootings like that go on in the city every day. You should never drive through the city,” he said, admonishing me as though I were a foolish child.
Still, he was right.
My crime denial defense had finally been stripped entirely away.
I and my family were naked, unprotected.
The simple truth was that the city of my birth was no longer the place I knew as a child, a young man or even as a young adult.
It was not safe.
So, I and my family packed up and left Charm City and we sadly left many good memories behind us.
That is why I have such anger in my heart when I hear the latest crop of politicians and public officials debate and talk about how they are going to fix the crime problem in Baltimore by implementing their latest Power Point presentations conjured up to quell the fallout from the city’s escalating murder rate — in order to win an election.
Before they can ever hope to fix Charm City, they must first shed — as I did — their crime denial defense.
Unfortunately, for them, I don’t think that they ever will.