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Tough on Crime

Posted 5/21/2003

Your readers were poorly served by the recent portrayal of crime in the Canton area of our city as explosive and out of control ("Safe at Home?", May 7). It seems extraordinarily irresponsible for a newspaper to try to ratchet up fear, that by its own admission does not exist, and then report that there is growing fear.

It is hard for me to imagine that any serious newspaper article about crime in Canton could be written without bothering to find out how much crime there is in Canton. No one seems to have asked this question. Therefore, I am left to conclude that most people will take this article less than seriously. To help you overcome this obvious problem with the article, here is what is happening regarding crime in Canton: Canton's crime rate is among the lowest in the city, and police and residents working together have maintained a steady decline over the last three years. Since 1999, overall crime in the neighborhood has decreased by 24 percent, assault has dropped by 40 percent, robbery has decreased by 38 percent, burglary has decreased by 31 percent, and rape by 69 percent. Because of this progress, home sales have increased, retail outlets and entertainment venues have moved in, and confidence in the future of the area remains high.

Is there room for improvement? Of course--and I plan to keep demanding it. But why your paper would find it necessary to undermine these positive developments by reporting so irresponsibly is curious at best. The article debates semantics and fans fears it admits are groundless.

This is a great city making extraordinary progress against very difficult odds. In spite of the economy and national trends to the contrary, we have over $1.6 billion in construction currently underway with another $1.3 billion in the pipeline. This is due in no small part to neighborhoods like Canton and a police plan that over the last three years has led to the fastest rate of reduction of violent crime in the nation.

Numbers, programs, progress aside, as long as there are victims, we cannot rest. The people in our neighborhoods are suffering, and each family's pain is our pain.

We have a lot more work to do to make Baltimore the greatest city in America, but it begins by believing in ourselves, in our police, and in the potential of our neighbors and our neighborhoods. Crossing that bridge is a challenge, but it is made a lot easier when what lies below are the facts and the truth.

Mayor Martin O'Malley
Baltimore

Editor Lee Gardner responds: I can assure you that we manufactured no fear in the making of Erin Sullivan's story. We would not have done the article had we not been contacted by numerous Canton residents worried about a perceived rise in violent crime and concerned that it was being swept under the rug to keep up appearances and property values.

We made every attempt to paint a fair picture of the situation, including copious police statistic s and several mentions that Canton has one of the lowest crime rates in the city. The drop in crime in Canton since 1999 is indeed worth noting and applauding; the police and conscientious residents are to be commended for their efforts. But crime statistics have dropped generally across the city and nation in that same time period. And lower crime does not equal no crime and no worries about it.

You are not alone in your objection to the piece, but we have received feedback from many Canton residents thanking us for a story they felt was on target and long overdue.

Don't Bring Me Down

I must say, your article on crime in Canton caught my eye--not that I don't already know the dangers of this city, but I guess in being a fellow city dweller I like to think that things are changing. But are they? This article relates to the pieces your paper did on Reservoir Hill a while back: the old story of hopes of revitalization ending in the predictable defeat ("City on a Hill," 2001). Is there really any hope left for urban development? I like to think so, since I am one of those who enjoys the small luxury of corner stores. Where are the articles about the positive things like renovation plans and ideas for the future of Charm City? I would love to see some fun articles on the plans for Locust Point and the Hippodrome and what about Belvedere Square, Hampden, and Clipper Mill? Just something to look forward to instead of the constant weekly reminders of the dangers.

Christina Rathel
Baltimore

Wack Off

Unlike the occasional right-wing readers who denounce your horrible Lefty rag, I'm usually pretty well pleased with City Paper's political reporting.

But I think the Nose was a little stuffed up on one point recently, namely the characterization of mayoral candidate A. Robert Kaufman as a "wacko liberal" (The Nose, May 7). Even if the Nose was being a bit tongue-in-cheek, he/she blew it on this one. Kaufman is, in fact, a radical and a socialist, and a pretty good one at that.

We're getting on to better than a century and a half since socialists and liberals parted ways, but people keep getting the two mixed up. There's a pretty sharp difference, though, and it's a fairly simple one. Socialists absolutely reject capitalism because they know it leads inevitably to overwork, unemployment, and poverty for the majority; monopolism; imperialism; and war (that's spelled g-e-n-o-c-i-d-e). Liberals either accept capitalism and keep trying the same old tactics to reform it--or pay lip service to opposing capitalism, while supporting it in practice.

As to whether or not Kaufman is a wacko, let's look at his record. He protested to integrate theaters and restaurants downtown during segregation days. He got arrested outside a CORE rally--for refusing to "move along" while arguing to two young men that the free-speech right is a myth! He opposed the Vietnam War from the beginning. He opposed the dirty wars in Central America. He has long supported gay/lesbian rights. He proposed a car-insurance collective (which the City Council, including a certain future mayor, almost passed) that would have saved every city driver hundreds a year.

Wacko, huh? Maybe in the land of wackos, only the wacko is truly unwacko.

Alan Rebar
Baltimore

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