I have a big soft spot for Baltimore. I lived there for a time ... moving there the day Harbor Place opened in 1980. I lived there for much of its revitalization and restoration.
I wasn't too excited when I realized I would be moving to the city that I had only ever seen driving south on the Beltway en route to destinations South. It ultimately became the city that I really didn't want to leave. I have always said: "If I had nothing to do in life but eat, drink, and be merry ... I could live and die happily in Baltimore." Those who know me well have heard me say it often.
When I lived there thirty five years ago, I considered Baltimore's police force to be the finest. They were vigilant and present. I lived right downtown for a time shortly before I left the city. I always felt safe walking the entire length of the city ... from the northern part of the city near Hopkin's Homewood Campus all the way to the Harbor and Fell's Point, passing through many transitional blocks on the way. What I saw last night saddened and sickened me. It was like the city reborn went and died a thousand deaths right in front of my eyes.
(That all being said and as an aside ... it is well known that the area surrounding The Johns Hopkins Hospital is one of the most dangerous areas of the city. Folks come from all over the world to benefit from its cream of the crop healthcare system. Residents stay away if they can help it.)
The destruction and looting were horrific to watch and did nothing to elevate the positions of those perpetrating it. "Destroying" doesn't fix anything and there is never any justification for it. Those who indulged in last night's insanity are only hurting themselves, their own friends and family, and their own neighbors and neighborhoods. That was the thing about Baltimore ... even in the big city ... there was always the sense of "neighborhood".
I also, however, like everyone else, am curious about what transpired across a 45-minute "mystery" period that left a healthy young male with such a severe spinal cord injury that he expired from it. That does take some doing. And I'd like to know "what doing was done".
My heart and sympathy goes out to Baltimore ... a city that always combined the best of feisty and graciousness ... and her people.
I want the Baltimore that I know and love back. For me and her citizens.