What is it with Baltimore?

I am proud to say I was born in Baltimore.  It has a rich history.  The national anthem was written during the War of 1812 while Francis Scott Key watched bombs bursting in air over Fort McHenry.

The city has a memorable sports heritage, also.  I gave my heart to the Orioles and the Colts as a boy and still follow the Orioles, although they have fallen on hard times.  (Alas, the Colts stole out of town in the wee hours and moved to Indianapolis in the early 1980s.)

But the city has a seamy side, a darker history. And I continue to see it play out as I watch from afar. What is it with Baltimore and crime? It is almost always listed up there with the murder capitals, and has been the venue for at least two TV series on the subject. 

Just this morning I read on the Baltimore Sun website  where some local city football players had been arrested for assault.  Another story described how a Johns Hopkins student killed an intruder, with a samurai sword no less.  I recall reading om the Sun website earlier this year about a woman being brutally beaten on a city bus by several youths.

Some things never change.  When I was a boy, I watched the city burn from a hill during the riots sparked by the assasination of Martin Luther King.  During the same period, I was punched in the head by some young thug as I left a concert at Memorial Stadium on the occasion of the first Earth Day. 

 The monitors in my junior high school looked like punks themselves. They wore leather jackets and sported DA haircuts.  I got jumped in the playground, probably because I was a new kid with a crew cut and a southern accent. (I had left Baltimore as a child, moved to Virginia, and moved back with my family when I was 13.)  

This guy could have been a school monitor during the Baltimore of my youth

This guy could have been a school monitor during the Baltimore of my youth

It seems most of the area politicians were either in jail or on their way there in my youth.  The most noted one, Spiro Agnew, became Richard Nixon’s vice president and had to resign after some corrupt deed.

That hasn’t changed either.  The current mayor is under a cloud for some kind of hanky panky. President Obama jilted her when he visited Baltimore for an event because of it.

The situation of my hometown seems to be similar to that of the refugees in Palestine.  Generation after generation, violence and crime seem to breed.

I suppose Baltimore is no different than other violent cities like Detroit, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.  But since I hail from there, I wish it was.


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