The past few days have been tough for Baltimore. Fires, looting, injuries, arrests — nobody wants to watch their city fall apart in a matter of days. However, with that said, these incidents were bound to happen — there was a perfect storm of legitimate protest and outliers who saw this as the time to commit acts of destruction against business owners who now need to rebuild, with many of their employees now in need of new jobs so they can take care of their families. This is a dark time in Baltimore, but there is light.
Baltimore is a city of over 200 distinct neighborhoods, covering more than 80 square miles — many of these neighborhoods are mired in poverty, addiction, a lack of resources, and blight, and have been for decades. What we’re seeing today is the result of 50 years of bad public policy, coupled with a lack of accountability and transparency, along with the desire of our government and institutions to protect the status quo at all costs, to protect their own existence to the detriment of our residents. Make no mistake, however — these residents deserve better, and they will demand better — of themselves and of their government.
Once the smoke clears, once neighbors start coming together instead of fighting against each other, we can make this city stronger and better. Perhaps not because of our government, but in spite of it. Ordinary citizens are the most extraordinary catalysts for change — I see this time and time again in some of our poorest, most blighted neighborhoods, and I have every faith that we’ll learn from this, find stronger voices, and create the city residents have needed and wanted for decades. We will demand it, and together, we will make it happen.