Death and Dearth in Black America: Baltimore, a Failure of Leadership

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Al Sharpton
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Much of the black community in America is dying, which is the “death,” and lacking true leadership and solutions across a wide range of issues, which is the “dearth.”

The failure of leadership in Baltimore didn’t start when Freddie Gray died. This isn’t proven to be about race. Now that charges have been brought against the police officers, the legal due process must be allowed to play out. True justice under our system of laws is when all sides are heard, all evidence presented, and considered by a judge and a jury of our peers. The peaceful protesters and community leaders must have patience. Media also has a responsibility to show more than the negative as there are many in the Baltimore community who would like the violence to stop and are taking action to do so, often on their own.

It is a long-running failure of leadership elected, appointed, and communal that do not address the problems in the community until there is a crisis, regardless of what initiates the crisis. Another failure of leadership is when President Obama asked Governor Hogan to exercise restraint. Law enforcement should have exercised the use of restraints for rioters, not restraint which ended up harming the community further and allowing rioters to destroy a significant amount of property, the aftermath of which the peaceful and local protesters are now burdened with.

The professional protesters, anarchists, outside negative influences by any name must be shunned by the community publicly whenever possible to remove them from the equation. The most prolific and professional protester is Al Sharpton who was President Obama’s liaison on race in Ferguson, Missouri. Ask Ferguson if Sharpton has returned to help in the aftermath. The video now widely televised in which Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake walks silently while an apparently in-control Sharpton appears to be the one who determines when and in what manner she speaks should trouble all in Baltimore. Since when did their duly elected mayor come second to a professional race-hustler?

An examination of the city’s crime rates over a decade show the tragic recent history in a city, for the most part, run by the Democratic Party and progressive policies for 40+ years. These types of crimes reflect a broken community where too many residents are left behind. Baltimore is 62.7 percent black, according to a 2012 report. Crime statistics in this report from 2002 to 2012 tell a troubling story of failure at all levels. In 2012, there were 3,605 robberies, 4,651 assaults, 7,700 burglaries, 17,397 thefts, and 3,982 auto thefts. These types of crimes are often indicative of poor, gang-related, and drug-filled areas. It will take years to reverse these statistics. Simply throwing money at the problem is not a solution.

The community, whether by voting or not voting, are responsible for the leadership they get or, in this case, fail to have when needed. Forget the debate over Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s words: “we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that.” They have already polluted a partially-violent environment. This riot, like others, will pass, and then the question should be about what is done going forward after this crisis subsides to address ongoing, and help prevent future, tragic events.

In the weeks and months after of the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the Rodney King beating, Mayor Richard Riordan, the last Republican mayor of Los Angeles enacted a series of strategies to bring the community into the governance picture. For example, community boards with real input to City Hall were formed and legislation was passed preventing council members blocking reform laws. Mayor Riordan was elected after a 20 year term by Democratic Mayor Tom Bradley. New York City also saw a rebirth under Mayor Rudy Giuliani after more than twenty years of Democrat leadership under David Dinkins, Ed Koch and Andrew Beame. I’m willing to give Ed Koch a partial pass because he tried and was a quintessential New Yorker who cared. Pay attention and you’ll notice a trend in America’s big cities under Democrats.

Going forward, there needs to be a strategic plan for Baltimore. This is primarily a socio-economic issue, not a race issue. Ignore the typical liberal progressive policy cries of income inequality. Race is a factor, albeit an imported one. The human capital in Baltimore must be rebuilt with a strong foundation in every way possible for future success. Human capital is the true strength of any community. This plan must address issues of gangs, drugs and related crimes, community policing, reintegration of former prisoners, failures in public education, and accountability by the elected officials. Jobs and economy are a part of the picture but will only come in a substantive way if the aforementioned issues and more are addressed successfully.


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