By Colin Flaherty
A state lawmaker in Maryland, concerned about “black youths” who are “terrorizing” Baltimore’s upscale Inner Harbor, wants the governor to send in state troopers to make the area safe.
Pat McDonough, a member of the Maryland legislature, has been accused of launching a “racially tinged publicity stunt” but stands by his comments.
“The Inner Harbor is a dangerous place for residents and visitors,” said McDonough. “And it does us no good to avoid this hard truth: Black youth are responsible for a sustained and dangerous period of violence in one of Baltimore’s nicest neighborhoods.”
The most recent episode of racial violence happened on St. Patrick’s Day. A white tourist was attacked, beaten, robbed and stripped of his clothes by a gang of laughing and violent black people, reports confirm.
The attack was captured on two videos posted to YouTube that are attracting hundreds of thousands of viewers.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called the episode a “bar brawl.” And the Baltimore Sun newspaper suggested that violence at the Inner Harbor was part of an “Easter tradition” of “kids milling around.”
After the beating, police commissioner Frederick Bealefeld told reporters that the violence was an isolated incident, not racially motivated and that only about 100 people were involved.
But two months later, reporters from the Baltimore Sun listened to the audio tapes of police dispatchers and discovered there were at least five times more people involved and much more violence, including previously unreported stabbings and beatings.
And according to witnesses and video accounts, all the perpetrators were black.
McDonough’s “aha” moment came two months ago when he and his wife were in the area for a charity fundraising dinner.
“This was a Wednesday night,” he said. “And when I stopped at a traffic light, I saw a hundred young black people in the next block over fighting and walking down the middle of the street.
“There were no police around. No police reports. And no stories in the paper. Violence and mayhem among young black people in the Inner Harbor is the new norm,” said McDonough. “And this has to stop.”
McDonough’s comments were echoed by many callers to his talk show on WCMB in Baltimore and by a New Jersey tourist as well.
“My husband and I came to Inner Harbor last month and stayed at a hotel there,” said the visitor to Baltimore who did not wish to be identified. “That night, we looked out our hotel window and saw at least 100 black people walking down the middle of the street, fighting and acting in a menacing way. The police did not show up for at least an hour. When I got back to New Jersey, I was curious about what happened. Then I learned there were no police reports. No newspaper stories. It was as if it had never happened.”
The St. Patrick’s Day riot was just one of several violent events people in the Inner Harbor tinged with race.
On March 18, hundreds of people streamed into the Inner Harbor, with dozens of fights, a stabbing, threats and other violence that resulted in 10 arrests. Police used a Taser on one of the suspects.
During Fourth of July fireworks last year, a child was shot and a tourist killed among other violent episodes at the holiday celebration.
One mile away from the Inner Harbor, in Upper Fells Point, a group of 10 to 20 black people attacked white residents in four separate cases, according to reports.
In April 2011, another large group of people streamed through the Inner Harbor, fighting and destroying property. One of the rioters was stabbed.
To put the April beating “in historical perspective,” the Baltimore Sun reprinted a story from 1995, when large groups of black people created violence during and after an annual jazz concert.
“Rodney A. Orange, president of the Baltimore chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said black teens have complained to him that ‘they feel stereotyped. They only want to enjoy their evening, wherever they are going, but very often they’re looked at suspiciously.’”
McDonough’s call for state police to protect the Inner Harbor from “black youths who are terrorizing” the area drew sharp rebuke from local elected officials and the media.
Rawlings-Blake said McDonough’s request was a “racially tinged publicity stunt.”
A fellow legislator called McDonough a race baiter.
The Baltimore Sun called on the Maryland legislature to sanction McDonough.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Pennsylvania and Delaware, some were asking what took McDonough so long.
Last summer in Philadelphia, after several years of large-scale violent episodes, some involving more than 1,000 black people on the streets of South Philadelphia, Mayor Nutter reversed his earlier stand that the riots were “really not much,” had no racial component and were the fault of “poor reporting.”
Less than a month later, according to the Philadelphia Daily News, he confessed his change of heart in front of a Philadelphia Baptist church.
“You have damaged your own race,” he said of the rioters. “Take those … hoodies down, especially in the summer,” Nutter, the city’s second black mayor, said in an angry lecture aimed at black teens. “Pull your pants up and buy a belt ’cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt.”
The head of Philadelphia’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, J. Whyatt Mondesire, said it “took courage” for Nutter to deliver the message.
“These are majority African-American youths, and they need to be called on it,” Mondesire said.
In Delaware, violence among black teenagers was so rampant that the Black Elected Officials of New Castle County wrote a similar letter to the governor of Delaware, asking for the National Guard to patrol the streets of Wilmington.
McDonough was seemingly unfazed by the whirlwind of criticism facing him for his remarks.
“The Good Book says speak the truth and fear not,” he said. “And for everything they are calling me, you will notice they are not saying one thing. No one is saying that what I said is untrue.”
Colin Flaherty is an award-winning reporter whose work has appeared in more than 1,000 media outlets around the world, including the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and WND. His critically acclaimed book, “White Girl Bleed a Lot: The Return of Racial Violence to America and How The Media Ignore It,” is in its second edition and available in paperback and e-book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other popular outlets.