By Cornell Dews
(AllHipHop Opinion) My Baltimore is killing people at an unprecedented rate. Since the riots in April of 2015, which were attributed to the unlawful killing of Freddie Gray while in police custody, my Baltimore has witnessed a surge in violence. That same year, my Baltimore witnessed its deadliest year by accumulating 344 homicides. That was damn near a body a day. In 2016, my Baltimore killed 319 people. And right now, we’re on pace to easily eclipse another three hundred mark, setting a new homicidal record for the city and possibly amassing more than 1000 murders in a matter of one thousand ninety-five days.
What has made my city so cold and heartless? And who are committing such brazen acts on my people? It would be remised and foolish for anyone in my city to think it’s only coincidental that the surge of violent crime parallels the large volume usage of illegally purchased prescription drugs cocktailed with other harsh narcotics. There are pockets in my Baltimore which are consumed by the “walking dead.” But these aren’t just “old dope fiends” intoxicated with methadone and other toxics in their bloodstream relishing in the memory of who they once were. The new addicts in my city are children, teenagers and young adults. So it doesn’t behoove me to think that most of the people committing these brazen acts are young and influenced by all types of descriptive and non-descriptive poisons, chemically and non-chemically induced, ravishing their system. The most recent person deemed Baltimore’s Public Enemy #1 was an 18 year old with a long history of violence wanted for murdering a man over a drug dispute. And there have been several young people on this most wanted list reportedly for committing some of the most heinous crimes imaginable. Sadly, if we don’t do anything to stop this madness and decline of humanity, my Baltimore will continue to spiral out of moral composition.
Two weeks ago, my Baltimore hit its most deplorable state since the killing of 3 year old McKenzie Elliott, a toddler whose crime was playing outside her home. Mr. Waddell Tate, a 97 year old resident of the Darley Park Community in East Baltimore, was brutally attacked and beaten to death in his own home. His only crime was being old, alone and appearing vulnerable to a coward. Mr. Tate and his family was one of the first, if not the first, black family to integrate the community in which he resided and ultimately was murdered in, more than six decades ago. Mr. Tate was a neighbor of mine who poured wisdom into me as a young lad. As a child he would ask to see my report card rewarding me with dollars for every stellar mark.
As a teenager he would always encourage me to work hard, save and invest money. As a young man in my 20’s he’d talk to me about the responsibility of being a family man and my duties of still watching out for those who helped me along my way. Every time I’d see him we would talk and he always deposited something of value in me. Our most recent conversation which took place a week or two before his death he jokingly said to me, “Man I haven’t seen you in the neighborhood for some time. I just thought you must have been traveling the world spending all of that money of yours.” To which he and I both cried laughing at. I said, “naw Mr. Tate, that ain’t me. I got a passport, but it ain’t even been stamped yet.” My Baltimore, a place where children get killed for playing and elders get killed for staying.
This editorial is entitled My Baltimore because that’s how I truly feel. This is my city. And as you know “my” is a very possessive pronoun implying that something belongs to a person. Well, I feel this city belongs to me. And whenever something belongs to a person, he or she is obligated to protect it, value it, secure it, defend it, love it, and take care of it. I’ve always believed that to be true, but I haven’t always been fearless enough to act accordingly as it pertains to my Baltimore. But the murder of Mr. Tate has abrasively shaken my conscious in a manner that I couldn’t justify inactivity on my part. As a man, anything that I reference as “my” deserves the proper attention from me. Mr. Tate was one of “my” elders in “my” neighborhood that took the time to invest in “my” life so that I could make a better life for “my”self, “my” family, “my” community and ultimately “my” Baltimore. It’s been roughly two weeks and Mr. Tate’s murderer hasn’t been arrested and I have not heard about many leads that could catch the degenerate. So I am committing myself to help organize my community and supporters to get #JusticeForMrTate. I intend to use every accessible platform I have to garner attention to #JusticeForMrTate.
I want the world to know about #JusticeForMrTate. And I want the brute who’d beat a 97 year old defenseless man to be apprehended and dealt with accordingly, by the appropriate authorities, of course. Any community that would stand by and watch people especially children and elders get killed without becoming outraged to the point of action is a spineless sap of people. My Baltimore is better than that, I’d like to believe.
Join me in getting #JusticeForMrTate. Share this editorial with your friends and their friends. Help me bring attention to such a violent act perpetrated on a wonderful old man who should still be sitting on his front porch as the patriarch of a small community in East Baltimore.