“Baltimore must not be allowed to spiral into further despair and violence,” says a Washington Post editorial. “Just as the city deserves responsible, proactive policing, it deserves strategic, forward-thinking governance from city and state leaders.” Soon after rioting in the city ended in late April, the world's media turned their gaze elsewhere, a petulant police force retreated to its station houses, and the real carnage began, says the Post. May was the most lethal month in the city in more than 40 years; in per capita terms, it may have been the bloodiest month since recordkeeping began.
There were 43 homicide victims last month, the most since August 1972, when Baltimore 's population, now 600,000, was about 900,000. In addition, there were 108 nonfatal shootings. The police have simply withdrawn, by many accounts. Harassed, hooted at and openly hated after the arrest of Freddie Gray, uniformed officers seem to have decided not to do their jobs. Arrests, already down from 2014 levels before the rioting, have plummeted more than 50 percent since then. Community leaders in Sandtown, where Gray was arrested, say there is a deliberate effort on the police department's part to vacate the streets and see how the community likes it. The Post says there is no sign that city or state officials are devising any sort of strategy to lift Baltimore from its spiraling sense of despair.