What do you think of the City of Baltimore?
“I think it’s a poor city. I think it’s an uneducated city. I think it’s a city that has a serious drug problem. I’m going to stop there.”
What do you think people outside of the city think about Baltimore? Regionally? Nationally?
“That it’s full of bad black people.”
What do you think are the biggest problems facing Baltimore?
“Education is the biggest problem. The drug problem is next.”
What are the reasons Baltimore faces various problems like these?
“I believe they face the education problem because the majority of the kids being born are being born to very young mothers. They aren’t born in a family unit. They can’t be educated by parents who are not educated. And I guess that’s really the reason why they don’t get the education. And the drug problem has been here since before I got here and it’s not going to go away.”
Around page 10:
I was just looking at some of the vacant homes on North Avenue. I know that’s North Avenue and those homes have been vacant like that since I was younger. Im 43, and when I was in my teens those houses were the same way. It’s a historic area so they’re not going to knock them down. They’re going to reface them and reuse them, but no one’s buying them because the area is plagued with drugs, so nobody wants to be there. Until they can clean that up like, kind of what they did with a lot of East Baltimore, it’s not going to change.
THIS IS BALTIMORE
BALTIMORE CITY POLICE
This interview was conducted with my neighbor, a 17th year Baltimore City police officer, based on responses to photos in Wide Angle Youth Media's book This is Baltimore. This book presents photographs of Baltimore's youth and landscapes in the aftermath of 2015's uprising concerning Freddie Gray's death. The participant has requested to stay anonymous due to legal reasons. All responses are direct quotes.
"I know that’s North Avenue and those homes have been vacant like that since I was younger. Im 43, and when I was in my teens those houses were the same way."
Around page 20:
I’m in the city all the time. Not just for work. I was born here, yes, and I left when I was 19. I moved to Alabama, then I moved to Hawaii, then I came back here.
So I have a question: Why are most of the pictures depicting young, black children? We have a lot of different races in the city. The Latino population is really big in the city schools.
Around page 45:
So they took all the pictures of the nice little kids in the clean playgrounds, but they didn’t show any of the dirty playgrounds -- or any of the real city. They took the pictures-- It’s obvious that this is a very clean street. Then you go to the inner city and you don’t see that because the city -- I mean, people who work in the city won’t clean it up. At least not like they’re supposed to, and the people in the city have no respect for the city so they don’t mind throwing everything everywhere. The city is really nasty.
"So they took all the pictures of the nice little kids in the clean playgrounds, but they didn’t show any of the dirty playgrounds --
or any of the real city."
Around page 54:
(informs him of the purpose of the book)
To show some good points of Baltimore? Well it’s definitely doing that. It’s showing some good kids, some kids that went to school like they were supposed to, I guess. I know Baltimore City has a serious problem with schools and students attendance. The majority of students don’t like to go to school and I believe they don’t like to go to school because they can’t learn. Because they didn’t learn when they were younger and they were pushed along through the school system.
As a police officer, the majority of our trouble come from the youth. And it’s the non-educated youth that we deal with. The kids that have nothing to look forward to. The kids that have no family to go home to. Their mothers are normally addicts; they live in a house with their mother or grandmother and they probably don’t see any of them. Maybe a 15 year gap between a mother and a child and a 15 year gap between the mother and the grandmother.
"I believe they don’t like to go to school because they can’t learn. Because they didn’t learn when they were younger and they were pushed along through the school system. "
"As a police officer, the majority of our trouble come from the youth. And it’s the non-educated youth that we deal with. The kids that have nothing to look forward to. The kids that have no family to go home to."
Around page 60:
So this is down the street. My mother went to Forest Park.
When you told me what the book was supposed to show, the book did show what it was supposed to show. It should have had a little more captions to show and identify what it was showing. Places. Ages of school kids to show what kids are still in school and what kids are not. There were captions beside the pictures. A lot of them made sense. I’m just wondering if the kid’s (captions) knew what they said and what they meant. A lot of kids here can’t identify with the violence and the one thing is the dislike for the police. The dislike for the police is historical. It’s been going on forever. It’s like something that’s bred in the kids as they come along. I don’t like police. I work for the police department and I don’t like police. I don’t like -- it’s not the practice. I just don’t like the job that they do, but it’s a job that pays my bills.
The kids are taught by their parents to dislike police. The parents are taught by their parents to dislike police and prior to that we had mothers who had husbands and sons who were targeted by the police for no reason. Absolutely black people who were targeted by the police for no reason but the fact that they were black. And beaten, jailed -- for no reason. And those women passed that down and they’ll never have a respect for the people that treated their men that way. But that’s really how it works. I work in a area where there are a lot of … it’s mixed. We have black, white, hispanic, and asian. The majority of the white people like the police. The hispanics are afraid of the police, but not for the same reasons that the blacks are afraid. The hispanics are afraid because they don’t want to be taken away from this country. The asians don’t have any issues with us. They don’t deal with us. They don’t deal with anyone but their own. Now biggest thing with the whites, a lot of whites feel privileged. And they get hurt when they don’t get that privilege. Because for so long they received the privilege and it’s not the same now.
We have a new breed of police officers here and they’re treating everybody the same. And that’s one of the reasons why you can see that they decriminalized marijuana. It was never a problem when the blacks were being arrested and charged with smoking a joint. And their careers are being hurt. But when the police officers changed --the type of police officers changed-- everybody was being arrested for that same marijuana joint. It was decriminalized because whites were getting these records and couldn’t get jobs just like the blacks couldn’t get jobs and it became a problem. It wasn’t a problem for a very long time but it became a problem and that’s why they decriminalized it because they didn’t want to give them that problem. Now the way the marijuana thing works is if I stop you for smoking a joint I have the option to arrest you or write a citation; It’s preferred to write a citation. You can absolutely still arrest people for it because it’s still a federal offense. The federal government didn’t change it; It’s just decriminalized in the state of Maryland. We’re all guided by federal guidelines --all police agencies. You can still get arrested for it, but to write a citation the person has to possess identification so we know who we’re writing a citation to. What do the majority of the blacks --young men, young women walking around in the city not have? Do they have ID in their pocket? The majority of them don’t because they didn’t have anybody in their life to take them to the MVA to get a ID. They’re not doing anything to get an ID card. So the way that it was fixed to protect certain people was to say you have to write a citation. Now what we do in the city, we have these cellphones and on a cellphone I can run anything so I can pull you picture up on a cellphone. And I’ll verify that it’s him so I can give him that citation. Or I can just send him on his way, which is normally what happens. People are normally just sent on their way. But a few years ago they were arrested for it. And you have a lot of young men that can’t get jobs.