Candidates React as City Erupts in Violence

#AFROCoronavirusUpdate

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By Michelle Richardson
Special to the AFRO

A violent Memorial Day weekend left at least eight dead in Baltimore City. Eleven have been killed since May 21. 

“This weekend we experienced an incomprehensible and unconscionable level of violence in the city of Baltimore,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison.

In this Dec. 20, 2019 file photo, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison announces support for a pilot program that uses surveillance planes over the city to combat crime in Baltimore. U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett in Baltimore on Friday, April 24, 2020, ruled against a grassroots think tank and area activists who asked him to keep the surveillance program from taking off, arguing that it violates their First and Fourth Amendment rights. (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP, File)

“At the core of it, is guns.” 

Commissioner Harrison said they do have some strong information from cases this weekend but are asking anyone with information to contact them.

“We know that most of the persons or several of the persons are no strangers to our criminal justice system to include murder convictions, attempted murder convictions, and robbery convictions. Some of this was retaliatory violence,” Harrison said.

Baltimore Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young argues the city’s crime plan is working despite seemingly pervasive violence. (AP Photo)

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young who is seeking reelection said he’s, “appalled and also angry at the level of violence in Baltimore. It was bad before but now during the pandemic, it’s gotten worse with these shootings and killings.”

Former police spokesman T.J. Smith and former mayor Sheila Dixon, both mayoral candidates, also  released statements in reference to the recent surge in homicides.

T.J. Smith, the former spokesperson of the Baltimore Police Department, announced his bid to be the next mayor of Baltimore this week. (Photo: AFRO)

“I’m angry because there’s like no sense of urgency with what we have going on. You see daily updates about the coronavirus rightfully so, but we have an epidemic going on,” he said. “We can’t deal with just the pandemic and ignore the epidemic,” said T.J. Smith who was at some of the crime scenes this weekend. 

Dixon said the murder and mayhem in the city, especially in the midst of a pandemic is overwhelming.

“We should not be talking about people losing lives this weekend during coronavirus when people are supposed to stay in. I know we have a police shortage but we also have other supplemental public safety who could help us in this effort,” she said.

Another leading mayoral candidate, Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott added a personal observation to the recent rise in shootings and homicides.

“This weekend sadly marked another Memorial Day with families and communities across Baltimore being terrorized by gun violence,” Scott said in a statement delivered to potential voters.

Baltimore City Council President, Brandon Scott. (Courtesy Photo/brandonforbaltimore.com)

“I always say that no one is exempt. Nothing will rattle you more than having to talk to your grandmother about someone being shot outside her house, leaving bullets in her awning and blood on her truck.”

The family of Steven Clark Sr, is grieving and looking to police for answers after Clark, 60, was one of the eight people killed during the weekend. 

“The man shot and killed my son. He gotta go,” said Clark’s elderly mother known as Miss Ann. 

“It’s too much of this death going on and people forgiving. I’m not forgiving anyone,” said Clark’s sister Denise Clark. “They took my brother from me, my best friend. I love him with all my heart.”