Newspaper Asks, Why Is Baltimore Such a Violent City?


The Baltimore Sun asks the question that has vexed America for generations: What causes violent crime? Baltimore ranks as one of the most violent cities in the country. In many ways, it has always been so. Complaints about violence in Baltimore date to a few years after its founding in the 1730s. In the 1850s, youth gangs affiliated with political parties, especially the anti-immigrant Know-Nothings. With names like the Rip Raps and Plug Uglies, they beat and shot one another with abandon. Baltimore earned the monicker Mobtown.

Today, the violence is often tied to drugs. But there is more to the problem than that. The Sun asked 10 people to posit solutions. Law professor Doug Colbert called for a change in a system that puts so many people behind bars only to have charges dismissed. A local criminologist called for a sustained anticrime and violence program. All agreed political pronouncements are insufficient. It is a problem that needs to be dealt with year after year, street by street, block by block, family by family, house by house, school by school.


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