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Posts Tagged ‘crime’

Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun

A passerby moarns Stephen Pitcairn

Summer is the drippiest of love-fests in Baltimore. There was Artscape, of course, then came a sweatstorm of art-rock at Whartscape, the monthly baby and dog parade at First Thursdays and weekly dose of sno-balls and popcorn at AVAM’s oldster movies. All: colorful, boozy, laidback, and mostly free.

But lately, my buzz has been way harshed by the sober truth of summer in the other Baltimore. Earlier this year, and it was probably not a coincidence that there were two feet of snow on the ground, The City Paper marveled that murders were way down.

After six days without a murder, there was one homicide this week. As of March 15, there have been 14 fewer murders in 2010 than on the same date in 2009. This is a decrease of 32 percent.

With the mercury, Baltimore’s murder rate shot back up to 8 in one week in May, starting with a fatal shooting of a 16-year old boy near the H.L. Mencken House in west Baltimore. This past week, the 7 murders included Stephen Pitcairn, a promising 23-year old research aid at Hopkins who was stabbed after handing over his wallet to experienced criminals in Charles Village. He died lying on the pavement holding the hand of a stranger, a neighbor who called the police. The frankly random nature of the killing has been stunning. (more…)

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Painful Transition

Sheila Dixon resigns tomorrow, and she won’t go quietly into the good snowy night.  TV11 reporter Jayne Miller reminded viewers on tonight’s news that Dixon is leaving office “still refusing to account for her crimes, still promising a new story yet to come.” What’s next? Sez Dixon: “I’ve had some people approach me about exploring some opportunities because of some many skills that I have.” (more…)

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Baltimore City: Still Developing

From Growing Up Baltimore "War Zones" siteLast year, we vented our frustration with city services and quality of life, playfully comparing Baltimore City to developing country cities like Cairo, Kingston, and Johannesburg. A spat of recent news stories and personal incidents have led us to wonder if we hit closer to the truth than we had thought.

All I Wanna Do is [Bang Bang Bang Bang] On New Year’s Eve, some people watch the fireworks display over the harbor. Others shoot guns in the air. Police patrols have long been instructed by supervisors on December 31 to “stay out of people’s way” and “make yourselves very scarce”, or just “Get the ** off the streets…” according to retired cop ‘Buz’. This year, police tried going after folks celebrating with alternative fireworks in their backyards. Some locals didn’t take to the crack down. “We were just shooting in the air,” said Robert M. Booze Sr, whose 25 year-old Derringer was confiscated in the wee hours of January 1, 2010, by police. “We were just celebrating the new year,” said Booze, a retired bakery worker, to the Baltimore Sun, “It’s how we do it in Baltimore.” In 1999, then-Mayor O’Malley initiated the policy change, complaining that city police rang in the New Year “hidden beneath highway overpasses” and “[taking] cover to avoid being showered with bullets.” 11 years later, the message hasn’t sunk in. The Baltimore Sun reports that 1000 police deployed on New Year’s Eve seized 29 guns and made 41 gun-related arrests. (more…)

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Dixon Resigns

The un-surprising news came yesterday around noon, broken by either Marc Steiner or WBALTV’s Jayne Miller. Sheila Dixon, our fiery first-female in chief, stepped down before sentencing wiped out her chances of future politicking and an $83,000 pension. Her plea agreement includes 500 hours of community service and a planned auction on eBay of the X Box “Need for Speed” game and camcorder purchased with BestBuy gift cards meant for poor Baltimore City children. It was a measly $500 in gift cards that won the prosecution the embezzlement conviction but a litany of other perjury and theft charges threatened to sink her later if gift card-related appeals failed. Reactions have varied.

“It’s a little disappointing,” said Dixon in a wandering article published in the Baltimore Sun yesterday. “It’s a sad and difficult time for Baltimore,” she said in a published statement quoted in today’s top story in the Sun about Dixon’s decision to step down. The Sun pointed out that she was indicted a year ago for other charges, and that she has of late “vowed to fight the jury’s guilty finding, which would have forced her from office.” Yet, “cracks in that stance have been forming.” (more…)

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Civic Duty

logo“With a strong work ethic and a focus on education and skills training, Civic works continues to kindle positive change in the lives of Baltimore’s young adults and in our communities.”

-Former Mayor Martin O’Malley, City of Baltimore

A delegation from the block inaugurated the spanking-new hot weather by digging in the dirt with the Civic Works AmeriCorps volunteers of East Baltimore. A crew of Hopkins students eager to get out of the lab met in the squinting sunny morning on Monument and trekked east in a herd to one of CW’s gardens nearby. Built abutting a drug-running alley–the east side runs cocaine–the garden is about a block long and half a block wide. The city had raised a block of dilapidated rowhouses here, when a local church came to Civic Works and asked them to transform the vacant lot. They created a vegetable garden and oasis of calm shaded by apple trees. (more…)

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Lex Market: Sandwich with chips, and a Beretta 380

Sandwich, chips, a Beretta 380: Get it all at Lexington Market

Lexington Market, the 227 year-old West Baltimore landmark famous for crab cake and local color, just lost a hunk of its tourism revenue for the year.

A federal investigation alleges that some market stands are hawking more than fish and chips. Gang members have been shopping for guns at the Utz potato chip stand.

Two Harley Davidson fans who run the stand are being charged with being unlicensed gun sellers.

Per City Paper

In addition to detailing six transactions involving 13 guns since 2007, the nine-page [ATF] complaint describes Papantonakis’ attempts to have someone beat up the market’s general manager Casper Genco, who also heads the Baltimore Public Markets Corporation.

The 56 year old stand’s owner, a former bounter hunter, allegedly packaged Walther, Sig-Sauer and Beretta handguns in Utz potato chip boxes out of his snack foods stall. With his 21 year-old girlfriend, he reportedly boasted about selling to Bloods, Crips and Hell’s Angels, and complained about having his automatic weapons supply cut off. An ex military man had supplied him with M-16s before. Apparently, the potato chip stand was known for selling cocaine alongside Old Bay-spiced crisps.

The district court complaint is an incredible document of the hubris of the chip stand owner. City Paper has helpfully posted the complaint to its Web site in its entirety.

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Web Logs A Flurry

The malls may be shut but the bloggery is booming in Baltimore.

Just north and east of our block

Just north and east of our block

Baltimore Slumlord Watch points to an entire block decrepit enough to make Bubbs weep. You don’t look impressed, but the 1500 block of Brentwood is located only a few steps north and west of our hood (like, spitting distance from Midtown yoga). Not that it’s cool for a block to look like this anywhere. In fact, as the wry Watch authors point out, the slumlord company calls itself Station Place, LLC, perhaps gunning to brand its apocalyptic, gutted real estate as up-and-coming arts district Station North. Yeah, it’s practically an artist colony… (more…)

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