2017 has been a scary year for myself and many other residents living in Baltimore. For some reason, Baltimore’s high murder rates aren’t getting the national attention that was on Chicago last year. Never have I felt more like a prisoner than I have in the last two years living in Baltimore as we’ve watched murder rates spike to unimaginable rates.
There have been 343 murders in Baltimore City this year thus far, not in the state of Maryland, in Baltimore City itself. Last year, we had a total of 344 murders, at the time of publication, we still have two days left in 2017. With the last recorded murders, Baltimore has set an unfortunate record for homicides per capita, The homicide rate for 2017 is now 55.8 killings per 100,000 people. While this year’s murder rate is comparable to last years, it’s important to note that in 2016, the city had thousands of additional residents.
Car jackings have went up, mainly perpetrated by teenage boys. Street robberies are at an all-time high, the tourists who flock to Baltimore for the food, fun and culture aren’t even safe. Baltimore’s inner harbor, the city’s largest and most popular tourist attraction has been the scene of multiple attacks this year.
Gone in the city, is that feeling of collectiveness and safe spaces. There were places that were unspoken safe zones, now, no one is safe anywhere. As an artist in the city, I used to tell myself all the time that these things were not an issue, that because I wasn’t a part of that culture of drugs, violence and ratchetness. I’d dare to go out all times of night, attending events and visiting friends, feeling untouchable.
I no longer do that. To tell the truth, I’m scared to go outside after 5 p.m., it’s dark and bad things happen in the dark. I wish I could say that and remedy it by just not going outside after 5 p.m., but this is Baltimore. Bad things happen in broad daylight, barbers get killed in their shops, carryouts are shot up while you’re trying to order lunch, a man was shot and killed on the bus. Baltimore is savage.
I’ve also learned there is no type that gets murdered in Baltimore. In the last few months, we’ve seen the unsolved murder of a Baltimore City Police Detective, a Morgan State University Student who walked in on a robbery, a 90+ year old man, found beaten to death in his home, and even the step-son of a very well-known local defense attorney.
Last night, Mayor Catherine Pugh held a vigil to honor those who have lost their lives to homicide in Baltimore this year. While speaking, she was joined on stage by Baltimore City Council President, Bernard C. “Jack” Young, Police Commissioner, Kevin Davis and other city officials. Pugh, who was sworn in as mayor less than a year ago, told the crowd gathered, “We will change the future of Baltimore, she later assured them, “This will become the safest city in America.”
I don’t know how she can assure that, but I sure hope it’s true. I’m tired of hiding indoors, trying to get in the house before the sun goes down, turning down invites to events.
How did Baltimore go from the city that reads to the city that bleeds?