Maryland is my home. I was born in South Baltimore 44 years ago. I grew up in the shadows of Memorial Stadium and I spent my childhood taking long car rides to “jibbit” (aka Essex) with my Mom and Dad as well as explore all points north, south, east and west of the city. From lunches at “Pollock Johnny’s” to dinner in Little Italy, there wasn’t a place my family didn’t know around “the Avenue” or the city. Our family roots are along Reisterstown Rd, and in the horse racing industry at Pimlico, Laurel and in the bays of Chesapeake. When the call has been put out, we have served in guard and military as well. We have defended the Free State as firemen and policemen. My family roots are deep here. I have lived in all corners of this great state. I have seen it in times of glory and shame.
The Baltimore you see on CNN is not the Baltimore I know. Yes, we have problems, yes there are troubled policies and politics that have plagued this state and city, but we have been through worst and always prevailed. Violence is not the answer that brings justice to the unjust. We know better. We are better than this!
I have never been one to sit on the sidelines. I’m the daughter of a Fireman. I was instilled with the motto “Service To Others” and for me, it has been painful to see the riots and not jump in my car and rush to help. To stop the violence, to beg the politicians to end their madness. To the kids, as young as 10 to get off the street and go home. I don’t pretend to know their pain – and I don’t think anyone should do that either. When you live abject poverty day after day, when you are hungry, tired and fed up – you tend to want to throw something at anyone! I can empathize with their pain but I don’t condone it. Nothing comes from destroying the community where you live. Nothing good comes meeting hate with hate. Destroying the city will leave you with nothing, however, when you see where these kids live, they live in destruction already. In fact, some of these neighborhoods were never rebuild after the 1968 riots over the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. Can you imagine that? The leadership of Baltimore City – decades and decades later after they put in a BRAND new stadium at Camden Yards, a BEAUTIFUL stadium for the Baltimore Ravens at M&T, rebuild the Inner Harbor at Harbor Place….but SOME HOW….they forgot since 1968 that West Baltimore needed to be rebuilt as well.
And that’s where we are. Oh, and there is something else. The death of a man who sparked this, Freddie Gray. But you see, Freddie Gray is one of many, sadly. The police policies were antiquated as well in Baltimore. Under the “leadership” of Martin O’Malley during the 90’s as Mayor, he instituted a zero tolerance policy where he asked his police force to arrest first and ask questions later. Which meant that many poor folks were just arrested for minor charges and then they could never get lawyers, or the charges off their records – which then translated to employers not hiring them based on the records. It has a trickle-down effect you see.
So you have a perfect storm under the guise of the death of a man in police custody. It was a tinder box waiting for a match.
In the middle of this riot, we have seen scenes out of movies that we didn’t think would happen in our backyard. We have troops now in front Lexington Market. We have “Ghost” games at Yard with the Orioles. But despite all of that. We have something else. Leadership.
We have leaders who have stepped up and said ENOUGH! Our Governor, Larry Hogan has put out the call to our state residents and to others to come in and end this violent response. We have community leaders, clergy who are getting these kids back in school, off the streets and helping with rebuilding.
You can’t count us out. We are stronger than hate, HON! We are going to fix this. We need more than just your prayers. We need your leadership, your support as we fix what hasn’t been fix since 1968. This time, we aren’t going to wait for another Freddie Gray to wake us up. We are going to start putting this city back on the map and not just for our crab cakes and O’s. We will be stronger as One Baltimore.
If you can – please consider giving your time and effort to the Governor’s Maryland Unites Campaign. I know many who are reading this page are not here in Maryland, but some of you are from Maryland or have ties here. Help us make a difference.
BEALEADER will also be putting together an action plan soon – not just a check but a plan to work in the city as we can to make others better with our leadership and skills.