A surge of violence in Baltimore has the police, city and community concerned about the safety of its businesses and residents.
According to The Baltimore Sun, the city has had 34 murders in 30 days, homicides are up almost 40 percent, non-fatal shootings are up 60 percent and violence is already outpacing last year.
Police and city officials are still dealing with the continued fallout from the death of Freddie Gray, a black suspect who died from injuries sustained while in police custody. Most of the increase in homicides has occurred in the district of Gray’s arrest. Since the initial outcry of the incident, there have been numerous riots, protests and looting.
Recent incidents of violence include five people wounded in an East Baltimore shooting on Saturday and two homicides on Sunday. Businesses continue to be vandalized and damaged by violent behavior.
“This is equally as unacceptable to the people here as it is to us,” said Deputy Commissioner Kevin Davis.
“Definitely, some people in the community are just as frustrated,” added Deputy Commissioner Dean Palmere.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said detectives are working to arrest suspects and that police “have to keep adjusting our tactics to stay ahead of the violent repeat offenders that are causing this violence.”
“What we’ve seen over the past few weeks will not be tolerated,” she said. “I want to assure the community that every available resource will be utilized to make our community safer.”
The Baltimore Sun reported that Rawlings-Blake tone downed concerns expressed by some Baltimore officers that members of the force are hesitant to make arrests after prosecutors brought charges to officers in the Gray case and that criminals might take advantage.
“People have said, ‘Well, it’s because morale is down,’ or, ‘It’s because the officers were charged,’” Rawlings-Blake said of the violence. “We don’t know that, and we have to follow the information that we’re getting through those investigations, and that is what the Police Department is doing.”
Munir Bahar, one of the founders of the 300 Men March, is seeking 30 men in 10 Baltimore neighborhoods to become block leaders. He said his group plans to train new volunteers and will hold an “Occupy Our Corners” anti-violence rally on Thursday.
“We always love to blame somebody else. It’s always the police’s fault. How is it the police’s problem that ‘Mike’ kills ‘Mike’?” Bahar said.
Bahar looks to residents for change but stated city leaders are not exempt from the blame. He said the shootings, riots and protests have uncovered the failures of elected leaders for not providing youth with the tools they need to succeed and escape a violent street life.