U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland made an appearance in West Baltimore on Tuesday night for National Night Out, an annual national event intended to strengthen relations between residents and police.
Garland spoke with members of the community at Wilson & Etting Park in Upton but did not take questions from reporters. Police officers mingled with youths, who played basketball and jump rope while munching on fresh cut fruit and food truck nachos at the event organized by the downtown advocacy group No Boundaries Coalition. west of Baltimore. Garland then continued her visit at a Western District block party in Sandtown-Winchester. During the event, Baltimore firefighters sprayed cheering children with water while a DJ played Drake songs.
Baltimore has been under a federal consent decree for five years after a 2016 Justice Department investigation into Freddie Gray’s death from injuries sustained while in police custody found the department Baltimore police had shown a tendency to violate the Constitution of residents. rights.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has struggled to prosecute cases where witnesses or victims are uncooperative, a hurdle she attributed to “the ‘stop snitching’ culture” in a 2021 letter to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. According data from Mosby’s office.
Homicides have remained above 300 per year since 2015, with 215 recorded so far this year.
After participating in a volleyball game, Mayor Brandon Scott said at a Tuesday press conference where he was joined by local and federal law enforcement that community engagement was key to making Baltimore safer.
“It takes a real community effort from all of us to take responsibility for what’s happening in our neighborhoods and change things for the better,” Scott said. “Together, with mutual respect and compassion, we can strengthen our neighborhoods and pave the way for a Baltimore where everyone feels safe and protected, regardless of race, ethnicity or zip code.”
Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox said in an interview at the Upton event that city officials had not done enough to address the bloodshed in Baltimore.
“You have a prosecutor and a mayor blaming the police instead of making sure the police are protected,” Cox said. “If they just show up to do something and someone falsely accuses them, all of a sudden now that that officer is furloughed, you don’t have the leadership of this town to support what they need. .”
Cox called the consent decree necessary, but said Scott failed to provide police with the proper resources to fight crime.
“The mayor has taken no steps to ensure that the police are empowered to carry out their mission. Instead, there’s a lot of talk about the need for equity,” Cox said. “Well, people need fairness, that’s for sure. It’s called safe streets.