I’ve been following the situation in Baltimore since the death of Freddie Gray because my wife hails from that city. Here is what is happening now according to the Baltimore Sun:
Baltimore’s top law enforcement leaders say they are working closely together to fight crime — but the community should not expect a turnaround soon.
State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, in an exclusive joint interview with The Baltimore Sun, say they are overseeing crime-fighting in a different climate than six years ago, when the city experienced fewer than 200 homicides for the first time in decades. Both officials claimed those past gains were achieved using heavy-handed tactics that have been disavowed.
“There was a price to pay for” the drop below 200 homicides, a price “that manifested itself in April and May of 2015,” Davis said, referring to the uprising following the death of Freddie Gray. “I think the long view is that doing it the right way is doing it the hard way, and I think most Baltimoreans realize that the way forward is not always going to be easy.”
The article continues:
Baltimore is on track for more than 300 killings for the third consecutive year. Among the latest victims was a 15-year-old boy who was gunned down in the middle of the afternoon Tuesday, the third teenager killed this month. In addition to spiking crime, authorities have continued to grapple with scandals that have led to criminal charges against officers and the dropping of scores of court cases.
I’m not sure I understand what this means. Is there really a direct link between disavowing “heavy-handed tactics” and a more than 50% increase in the homicide rate? What exactly is the relationship here? Is everyone OK with the trade-off? In particular, are the families of the 100 marginal homicide victims copacetic? And what are those heavy-handed tactics anyway?
But let’s focus on the negatives:
Mosby cited zero-tolerance policing as a “failed strategy” that continued in Baltimore long after it was formally disavowed by the city’s leaders. “Those failed policies are what got us to the place we were at in the spring of 2015,” she said, referring to the unrest.
Davis noted that his agency is operating with about 500 fewer officers than a few years ago, when the city experienced several years of declines in gun violence. He said the police department at that time employed a strategy that won’t be duplicated.
“It was a geographic takeover strategy of neighborhoods, that cast nets over neighborhoods that happened to be overwhelmingly poor, overwhelmingly African-American, overwhelmingly impacted by all the failings of society. And they [celebrated] when they got to a certain artificial number of murders,” he said. “As if 200 murders is acceptable for a city of 600,000 people.”
I agree that 200 murders a year should not be seen as acceptable. But I would think that 300 murders a year should be viewed as quite a bit less acceptable.
A heavy handed police state may be able to maintain some degree of order, but they can’t create it. We can build hundreds and thousands more prisons to maintain order but that doesn’t deal with the problem that causes disorder.
The real question is whether the heavy handed tactics just moved the violence outside the city boundaries.
I don’t know. I lived under military dictatorships. Even in South America, violent crime seemed to be less rampant when the dictators were in charge. (I am not endorsing dictatorship, mind you. Merely making an observation.) For instance, the military dictatorship ended in Brazil in 1985, though it had gotten pretty, er, permissive around 1980 or so. And yet, the homicide rate doubled from 1980 to 2002 (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5308a1.htm).
Similarly, as an outsider looking in, without by any means endorsing Apartheid which I find to be an awful system, it seems to me that post-Apartheid South Africa has had a much worse homicide rate than the country did during Apartheid. (The first thing that comes up on Google when I search is this: http://www.frontline.org.za/Files/PDF/murder_southafrica%20(5).pdf)
Just a bit north of South Africa is Zimbabwe, which seems from my impression to have ended up with worse violence than Rhodesia.
(Again, my impression, and certainly not an endorsement of the Rhodesian system.)
Here’s USSR/Russia from 1980 to the present: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_Russia#/media/File:Crime_and_incarceration_rates_in_Russia.svg Notice the crime rate exploded a couple of years before the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
It has often been noted by historians that discontent boils up not when people are most oppressed, but rather when the yoke around their neck is loosened.
It would seem your hypothesis should be testable. For instance, in the years when violence was getting better in Baltimore, we’d expect it to be getting worse in surrounding areas. Conversely, in the last few years where things got worse in Baltimore, we should see it getting better in Baltimore. I suspect that isn’t how things worked but would be happy to be corrected.
I think you’re confusing discontent with demonstration of discontent, since you stated:.
“It has often been noted by historians that discontent boils up not when people are most oppressed, but rather when the yoke around their neck is loosened”
The “yoke” prevents demonstrating and actions which were not possible (or less so) with the “yoke” in place. Removing it doesn’t increase the discontent due to the yoke, it just lets it become far more visible.
You’re confused about what police states do. Like I said:
“A heavy handed police state may be able to maintain some degree of order, but they can’t create it. We can build hundreds and thousands more prisons to maintain order but that doesn’t deal with the problem that causes disorder.”
“Maintaining order is an act that occurs only when disorder already exists”… The police state doesn’t address fixing the cause(s) of disorder. Maintaining oppression is done by many methods.. using the police state to keep order under the oppressions isn’t a solution to eliminate oppression nor does it ever lead to one..
Most of the homicide victims were in the drug trade. Has there been a drug war? Is Baltimore supplying more or new drugs regionally? A lot of the crime rate in the 1960s was about the heroin trade. In the 1980s it was cocaine and derivatives.
The Baltimore murder rate seems to go up and down with the economy. When the economy is booming, more people are murdered, at least over the last 20 years or so. Do people use more drugs when they have more money? This could be driving the murder rate as well.
I don’t dispute what you are wrote, but the following seems to contradict popular wisdom:
Do you have a cite?
Baltimore, July 2017 :
– 25% poverty, nearly all being blacks.
– Poorly trained, racist, incompetent police dept. (per US Dept of Justice)
– 50k addicted to Opioids
“A former steel and manufacturing hub, [Baltimore] has lost 75,000 factory jobs since 1990. As a result, around a quarter of Baltimoreans are stuck in poverty, with few obvious ways out. The police department last year was the subject of a damning report from the Department of Justice, which concluded that many of its officers were poorly trained, racist and incompetent, especially in their bungled efforts to patrol poor, black neighborhoods. Moreover, according to an estimate by the health department, around 50,000 Baltimoreans are addicted to opioids (although some consider that an exaggeration).”
Yep, more cops is what ails Baltimore all right.
I think the correct and accurate term for the black neighborhood in Baltimore is ghetto.
“A ghetto is a part of a city in which members of a minority group live, typically as a result of social, legal, or economic pressure.”
Though probably not as accurate, when you confine people to a ghetto it might be considered like sending them to a Gulag.
OK. So here’s your story, translated into English.
a. 63% of the Baltimore population, which includes much of the city’s elected power structure, is oppressed by racists.
c. The homicide rate is elevated in Baltimore, and there has been a 50% increase in the homicide rate
From what I can tell, in general, the homicides are not being committed by the oppressive racists. So what is step b?