This past week saw the ISIS Islamo-Nazis take major cities in Syria (Palmyra) and Iraq (Ramadi).
In Texas, record rains have broken a ten-year drought, but now flooding rivers have left parts of Austin and Houston underwater with at least eight people dead and sixteen missing.
On the Memorial Day weekend, following a month of turmoil, a record number of people were shot and killed in Baltimore, America’s 26th largest city.
Let’s pray for the situations in the Middle East and Texas. But today, let’s focus on what is absolutely destroying Maryland’s biggest city (along with Detroit, Chicago, and many others).
Rotten core, Baltimore, who’s your friend?
As you know, Baltimore has been in the news for six weeks after African American Freddie Gray was arrested on April 12, 2015 and died six days later–apparently of injuries suffered either during or after his arrest.
Gray’s death led to rioting in the streets of Baltimore, a stand down order of the police force for a period of time, and millions of dollars in property damage as angry mobs looted and destroyed local businesses.
On May 1, six Baltimore police officers, (three black and three white) were charged in Freddie Gray’s death.
The Baltimore riots were the latest in a string of police-citizen confrontations that some have used to stoke racial fires all across America. There are many more than these, but three brought national attention:
In August, 2014, Michael Brown robbed a convenience store in Furgason, Missouri, resisted arrest and charged Policeman Darren Wilson who was trying to apprehend him. In this initial race-war escalation incident, people shouted false slogans about Brown’s innocence (“Hand Up, Don’t Shoot!) which were later de-bunked. Wilson was cleared of all charges.
The Furgason furor was bogus from the beginning–an excuse for anarchy and race-hustling.
Then, in December 2014 a New York Grand Jury failed indict officers in the chokehold death of Eric Garner who resisted arrest for illegally selling cigarettes. This incident was tragic yet accidental. Riots ensued.
Finally, Freddie Gray died on April 18 after being arrested by police for illegal possession of a knife (he had a long rap sheet). The verdict is still out of this one, but many believe that District Attorney Marilyn Mosby over-charged six officers in Gray’s death and fanned the fires of hatred via her words (“This is our moment!”).
Baltimore’s mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, also failed to protect the citizens of the “Star Spangled Banner” city by holding back police during early encounters with protesters. Her now infamous line: “We also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that.”
Baltimore was looted and burned–and it has only gotten worse.
This past month was the deadliest that Baltimore has seen in more than 15 years. More than two dozen shootings over the Memorial Day holiday weekend alone had city police working around the clock. From West Baltimore to the East Side, a spike in weekend violence took place all over the city. Over the Memorial Day Weekend, city police report 28 shootings and 9 homicides.
Baltimore Police say they responded to six shootings on Friday night, seven on Saturday, five on Sunday and eleven by night fall on Monday. One of those included a double shooting in which a 9-year-old boy was found shot in the leg and a man who suffered a grazed wound to his head.
I like Baltimore. I’ve been there a number of times. It has many great attractions as a city and a lot of good people. But two social elements have been extremely hurtful to the lives and future of Baltimore. There is also one friend who needs to help heal the carnage and point the way to hope.
What are the negative factors that have created a rottenness in Baltimore’s urban core?
Negative Factor One – Bad Leadership
Former Speaker of the House and presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, penned an astute assessment of what is rotten in Baltimore from a leadership standpoint. Entitled “The Collapse of Baltimore City,” he points out that Baltimore’s problem has been one-party dominance by Democrats for decades. The Democratic Party and its ideology have destroyed the once great city of Baltimore.
I don’t particularly like party labels because I know good people in both political parties. But it’s also true the today’s Democratic Party is not the party of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, or even Franklin Roosevelt. It is generally far-left liberal, secular-based, socialism leaning, and produces many victims and government dependents.
Let’s use the modern term “progressive.” Progressive politics are regressive to people, cities and nations.
Here is Newt Gingrich’s fact-based proof that progressive leaders and policies play a major role in Baltimore’s rotten environment:
- Fact: the last Republican city council member in Baltimore City left office in 1942. That is 73 years of solid Democrat city councils.
- Fact: the last Republican mayor of Baltimore City left office in 1967. That is 48 years of unbroken control of the mayor’s office.
- Fact: the Maryland Senate is currently 33 Democrats to 14 Republicans.
- Fact: the Maryland House is currently 90 Democrats to 50 Republicans.
- Fact: the last time Republicans held both the Maryland Senate and the Maryland House of Delegates was 1897.
- Fact: the last time Republicans held even one chamber of the Maryland General Assembly–the House–was 1917. That is unbroken Democrat control of the Maryland legislature since 1918–or nearly a century of Democrat control.
- Fact: 7 out of 8 members of the Maryland delegation in the U.S. House are Democrats.
- Fact: Last Republican U.S. Senator from Maryland was elected in 1980.
I think you get the point. Progressive “leadership” (Democrats) has made Baltimore what it is today.
Gingrich points out:
“The collapse of order has a continuing effect. There has been a drastic increase in shootings and homicides in Baltimore since April 27. More than 50 people have been shot. At least 10 have been shot and four killed since Saturday May 9. Nonfatal shootings are up nearly 50 percent. All of this happened under the leadership of a Democrat mayor who was worried more about the rioters’ free speech than about the safety, protection, and livelihoods of innocent Baltimoreans.”
He concludes his argument by reminding us that the first duty of government is to protect the innocent and the weak from predators and violence. But progressives “favored the violent over the victims.”
Newt also destroys the false charge that the police are racist. Here is his second “fact check” list:
- Fact: More than half of the Baltimore City police force is minority.
- Fact: Four of the six top commanders are African American or Hispanic.
- Fact: Half of the police officers being prosecuted are African American.
- Fact: The problem is not lack of money. Baltimore spends $17,329 per student, and its unionized, bureaucratic schools fail. (Amazingly, as Archbishop of Baltimore William Lori points out, the Catholic schools cost $6,000 a year and have a 99 percent graduation rate. Yet the Democrats are committed to locking poor children out of those schools if it takes a dime away from funds for failing, unionized public schools.)
Gingrich summarizes that in Baltimore, and many other progressive-led cities such as Detroit, Chicago, and New York, bad leadership policies have “trapped people in dependency, killed small businesses in favor of bureaucracy, and favored unionized workers over children. The result has been a 50-year disaster which no liberal Democrat is prepared to analyze honestly.”
Problem one in Baltimore is the rotten core of progressive leadership (or lack of it).
Negative Factor Two – Family Breakdown
The other major factor in the chaos, crime, and rottenness of progressively-led cities in America is the tragic breakdown of the African-American family. Whereas relatively intact black families were the norm in this nation all the way up to the 1960s, that is no longer the case.
Seventy percent of black children are born out of wedlock. Seven out of ten black teenage girls get pregnant and don’t graduate from high school. The “fathers” don’t take responsibility and split the scene. The single parent homes go on welfare. Crime increases in the neighborhood as fatherless children join the gangs to find “family” and peddle drugs to survive.
No one in America has been a clearer voice on the tragic breakdown of the black family that Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, anchor of the number one cable news show in America, “The O’Reilly Factor.”
The stunning collapse of the African-American family has produced poverty, bad neighborhoods, and rotten cities where it’s easy to light a match of racism or any other grievance and watch the culture go up in smoke.
Two human resources are rotting Baltimore’s core: Broken families and bad leadership.
So who is your friend?
The person who is the answer to all human needs is Jesus Christ, the God-man, who not only died for our sins but sends his Holy Spirit to live inside of those who turn and become reconciled to God.
God in us provides the will to reject violence and hatred; Christ in our hearts gives us the power to create strong and healthy families; God’s grace in our lives lifts us out of despair and poverty; Christ-centered leaders enact and enforce good laws that create security for people, good schools for children, jobs for the industrious and deterrents for criminals.
How does Jesus accomplish this? Through his people–the Church–who rise up like the morning sun to bless the city through their prayers, evangelism, charity, acts of service, and leadership
Followers of Jesus in Baltimore–this is your kairos moment. Flood the streets with God’s grace, justice and goodness and pray that the Lord of the harvest will make Baltimore a “city on a shining hill.”
[An encouragement from Steve Hall, Northwest Prayer Leader: