Amid Soul-Searching, Little Joy in Grim Portrait of Baltimore PD

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The Baltimore Sun says one vexing challenge underlies the Justice Department’s 163-page report on the failings of the Baltimore Police Department: race. Justice officials found that police used excessive force and unlawfully stopped hundreds of thousands of drivers and pedestrians without cause — and that African-Americans bore the brunt of this. The report provoked soul-searching as Baltimoreans considered the troubling portrait of their city. “It’s about structural racism,” said Diane Bell-McKoy, CEO of Associated Black Charities. “It’s not just the police. It’s everything.” The report drew reactions of anger, sadness and outrage. But there was little surprise, especially among blacks, and even less joy that the report confirmed what they have long been saying about police treatment.

“It is now documented in black-and-white print,” Bell-McKoy said. “This is part of the baggage of our country’s history.” Patrick McCarthy of the Annie E. Casey Foundation called on Batimoreans to take responsibility for the racism “embedded” in the city. That Baltimore, a majority black city in which much of the political leadership is also black, has an entrenched racial problem is troubling, many said. “We still haven’t eliminated all the vestiges of racism,” said Kurt L. Schmoke, the city’s first elected black mayor. Police union president Gene S. Ryanunion complained the report seemed to blame the rank-and-file for policing problems. He called the report an indictment of “the failed leadership at all levels of city government.”

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