In Ferguson, protesters and rioters blamed a white mayor, police chief and political power structure for years of mistreatment of blacks by police.
So what’s the excuse of rioters in Baltimore where the mayor, city council president, and police commissioner are all black? Since 1987 all but one mayor has been black — Martin O’Malley, the former governor and potential Democratic candidate for president.
As in Ferguson, blacks in Baltimore have been complaining about police misconduct for years. We see in Baltimore that having a black mayor, police chief, and other top city officials does not necessarily mean that “a change is gonna come” and that social inequities will be addressed and rectified.
Even with urban blight, decayed neighborhoods, loss of jobs, black on black crime, and deep feelings of unequal treatment by the police, blacks in Baltimore — and most urban centers — continue to elect and reelect liberal Democrats whose decades long social policies and union bedfellow partnerships have failed to improve conditions.
It’s always someone else’s fault — a Republican governor, legislature, or “those evil whites in Congress who won’t let our black president and representatives accomplish anything.”
For Baltimore, this is exemplified by a fumbling, bumbling, not too credible mayor who made the typical liberal appeasement comment that you have to “give space for those who want to destroy.” And destroy they did!
The problem in Baltimore and most major cities is that, unlike other voter groups, blacks generally do not hold their black elected officials accountable. Other groups do not tolerate elected officials who do not respond to their needs — they demand accountability.
Historically, the common thought in much of black America was that if we could just have more blacks representing us at the local, state and federal level, it would translate into positive change for the black community — revitalization of inner cities; job creation, equal justice, and treatment by law enforcement; and, provision for equal educational opportunities.
Today, with historic numbers of black elected officials at the local, state and federal level and even a black president, has the condition of black America improved? Apparently not in Baltimore — and most cities.
Blacks need a “come to Jesus moment” and realize that the blame for the explosions in Baltimore, Ferguson, and other cities has been years of failed Democratic social policies with no comprehensive urban strategy to deal with these problems — including failure of this black president to offer such a program in six years.
Rather than blame the present and former mayor and other black officials, many are reaching back to former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley — also a Democrat — who hasn’t been mayor since 2007. They say his zero tolerance police policies had a disproportionate impact on blacks and are the root cause of current problems.
What a cop out.
O’Malley was succeeded by a black female, former City Council President Sheila Ann Dixon, who had served as Council President during O’Malley’s tenure and succeeded O’Malley as Mayor. Her comment on the situation: “We have some major inequities in the city. We have to put more focus in those areas.” Where has she been?
She was followed by the current mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who had served on the city council while O’Malley was mayor and was council president from 2007-2010.
If people were so upset over O’Malley’s police policies, why weren’t these issues dealt with by these two black mayors — also Democrats — when they succeeded him to say nothing about while they were members of the city council? Did they listen and act on complaints regarding the police as members of the council and while mayor? Based on the continuing anger, obviously not.
The complaints: pervasive poverty, unemployment, police brutality, and insensitivity? Nothing new. Are we to believe that the current mayor, police commissioner, and black political leaders have not heard these complaints for years?
Are we to believe that they have not been aware of issues of conflict between blacks and police? Certainly not.
Mr. Gray’s death in police custody is nothing new to Baltimore. According to the Baltimore Sun, the city has faced over 300 lawsuits on police misconduct and has paid out nearly $6 million in settlements related to police misconduct and brutality since 2011 — all under the current mayor’s watch!
It’s time for the people to start holding their elected officials accountable for the city’s problems — including those with the police. In Baltimore, and elsewhere, blacks need a political intervention to deal with their chronic addiction to Democrats whose policies have led to many of the problems in urban America.
Clarence V. McKee is president of McKee Communications, Inc., a government, political, and media relations consulting firm in Florida. He held several positions in the Reagan administration as well as in the Reagan presidential campaigns and has appeared on many national and local media outlets. Read more reports from Clarence V. McKee.