After a fatal stabbing and a non-fatal shooting at the Inner Harbor on Independence Day, mayoral challengers were quick to present their explanations for the violence.
According to an article in The Baltimore Sun, Otis Rolley offered this rather simplistic syllogism: “When you fail to invest in education, when you fail to invest in rec centers, you can’t be surprised when you see this kind of violence.” State Senator Catherine Pugh reportedly blamed the two separate incidents on lead poisoning, which can cause behavior disorders.
Violent crime is a major issue for Baltimore, and it deserves a more realistic discussion. Surely, greater investment in education and community-building programs could have positive effects for the city, one of which might even be a decline in violent crime, and lead poisoning is a concern worthy of city-wide attention. But it is irresponsible to offer premature and politically convenient answers to what are specific, unsolved crimes.
The implication in these opportunistic claims by Rolley and Pugh is that violent crime is not determined by several complicated factors, and further that the mayor is endowed with the godlike power to end violence in the city. It’s as simple as implementing some particular policy.
I’m willing to believe that the mayor and city council may have the ability to make Baltimore a safer place, through programs and legislation, but the argument for any given course of action needs to be supported by coherent and logical reasoning, not emotional sloganeering.