I spent 15 years in Suburban Maryland which, of course, identifies more with Washington, DC than Baltimore. But Baltimore was only 30 miles away and reminded me more of a “real” city. Washington pushes paper and people around in one big shuffle. Baltimore works for a living. Washington is a dark tinted Mercedes. Baltimore is trusty Ford.
As a private investigator I got to all the streets of Baltimore. It was the ’80s and early ’90s and the downtown renaissance had just come to early adulthood. The scars of the ’60s and early ’70s had begun to fade and the city was moving onwards and upwards. But, in the shadows, the divide always seems to be there.
Nowhere was I able to finally show my wife and family this better than on a vacation trip for the 4th of July, 2008. We were celebrating with the fireworks over the Inner Harbor. It’s a truly stunning visual knowing that Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner just a few thousand yards from where I was sitting on the edge of the water. The crowds of families were delighted, peaceful and festive.
Then came afterwards…
The street urchins and wanna be gangsters descended and began to do what they pretty much do on many great Baltimore nights. They started blocking streets and causing havoc, though there was little property damage. My wife was freaking out and the children watched with bemusement when the police barricaded a street from moving because these street thugs had blocked one of the main exits to the nearby highways. They walked between our cars and even on top of some cars. They were seemingly delighted they were causing so much mischief and worry to the suburbanites trying to head home.
Make no mistake, these idiots are not the vast majority of Baltimore. But something in this city has allowed them, excused them, to behave this way. Sadly, I see the same beginnings here in Kansas City on The Plaza. Bored youths who think it’s fun to terrorize.
A great quote from the Baltimore police chief last night concerned a hooded kid being recognized by his mother. Rather than the kid’s mother excusing him or remaining passive she went out, removed his hood and slapped him a couple times in the head before leading him home. The chief said he wished more parents would take charge of their kids that way. As do we all.
Say a prayer for Baltimore. My guess is this isn’t over. And that it has little to do with the protests. It’s just another reason to cause terror. Hooliganism they used to call it in Great Britain.