Black American residents of Baltimore, Maryland, are now blaming a lower police presence for the city’s soaring murder rate despite three years of Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists insisting that police be pulled from their neighborhoods.
Baltimore has now experienced higher murder rates for three years in a row after riots and BLM-sponsored protests began rocking the city after the death of Freddie Gray, a suspect who died in police custody in the spring of 2015, National Public Radio (NPR) reported.
Since the riots, police morale has collapsed, and city officials began planning a lighter police footprint in response to complaints of residents and protest leaders.
But now, black leaders are blaming cops for the spiraling murder rate, saying that the police pullback has put them in danger.
The Rev. Kinji Scott, a Baltimore activist, is blaming city hall for leaving the neighborhoods unprotected.
“We wanted the police there,” Scott insisted. “We wanted them engaged in the community. We didn’t want them beating the hell out of us, we didn’t want that.”
Scott and others are now pressuring the city to bring police back in as a deterrent to the soaring crime rate.
Despite the loud proclamations from BLM activists that the police are the problem, Scott and his fellow activists are now claiming that they never wanted police to go away.
In an interview with NPR, Scott claims only the progressive activists wanted cops to be eliminated:
No. That represented our progressives, our activists, our liberal journalists, our politicians, but it did not represent the overall community. Because we know for a fact that around the time Freddie Gray was killed, we start to see homicides increase. We had five homicides in that neighborhood while we were protesting.
What I wanted to see happen was that people would be able to trust the relationship with our police department so that they would feel more comfortable. We’d have conversations with the police about crime in their neighborhood because they would feel safer. So we wanted the police there. We wanted them engaged in the community. We didn’t want them beating the hell out of us, we didn’t want that.
Scott also blamed the city for not fostering a community atmosphere between police and the neighborhoods.
The primary thrust nationwide is what President Obama wanted to do: focus on building relationships with police departments and major cities where there had been a history of conflict. That hasn’t happened. We don’t see that. I don’t know a city—Baltimore for certain—we’ve not seen any changes in those relationships. What we have seen is that the police has distanced themselves, and the community has distanced themselves even further. So the divide has really intensified, it hasn’t decreased.
And of course we want to delineate the whole culture of bad policing that exists—nobody denies that—but as a result of this, we don’t see the level of policing we need in our community to keep the crime down in our cities that we are seeing bleed to death.
The reverend’s claims also seem to fly in the face of a list of 19 demands issued by protesters in 2015, one of which demanded that police be barred from entering certain buildings or parts of neighborhoods they had designated as “safe” from police. Clearly, the protesters wanted police removed from Baltimore’s neighborhoods. But now that they’ve gotten their wish, community leaders have suddenly realized what a bad idea such a pullback is.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.