Baltimore has been in a state of turmoil and unrest since the death of Freddie Gray in April, but the latest surge in homicides have law enforcement at all levels of government at a loss.
Baltimore’s police and civic leaders launched a two-month partnership Monday that will see ten federal agents embed with the city’s homicide detectives in the latest bid to curb a surge in violent crime that has not been seen in decades.
Under the program, two special agents from each of the federal government’s five crime-fighting agencies (the FBI, DEA, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Service and the ATF) will help investigate cases for the next 60 days. The city’s acting police commissioner, Kevin Davis, told reporters that the agents met with officers Monday to discuss cases where officers have identified suspects, but need additional evidence to file charges.
At Monday’s press conference announcing the program, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. made a plea to the residents of his home city. “The only people making good now are the morticians,” Cummings said. “And I say our city is better than that. It’s not just the murders and the shootings. I’m begging you, put your guns down.”
Referencing the riots after Gray’s death, Cummings said, “I hear over and over and over again, ‘Black Lives Matter’. And they do matter. But black lives also have to matter to black people.”
Rep. Cummings is right. The numbers show that over 9 out of 10 black people murdered in 2013 were killed by another black person. The civil rights movement found success because its loudest voices led by example, through peaceful protest, education, and empowerment. If residents of Baltimore want to be respected and enact real change, they have to start by respecting each other and their surrounding community.