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   Homicide, The Real Story

A POEM FOR BALTIMORE CITY

Homicide, The Real Story

August 30, 2002

The Baltimore Sun published a chilling statistic,
just a number to some,
a chilling statistic,
three, bold, black digits superimposed
over the chalk outline of a body,
the kind police detectives draw around
the bodies of murder victims.
Now we’ve only been through 8 months of the year 2002
and in Charm City, the City the Reads, The Home of the O’s,
       Harborplace, the Ravens,
167 people have been murdered this year.
That’s almost one person killed every day of this year.
Someone’s daddy, or brother or son or little boy,
for most of them killed are men
and nearly all of them are black.

You see, for as many years as I can remember,
I’ve been hearing on the news
and reading in the paper about
how high the murder rate is in
Charm City, the Home of the O’s, Harborplace, The Ravens
the city that mostly can’t read,
where over 25,000 kids went to summer school
this year just to get through the basics of the grade
       they just completed.

Why this awful waste of precious, human life
allowed to continue year after year in such a
ho-hum, if-it-bleeds,-it-leads manner?

On New Year’s Eve of 1999,
The Baltimore Sun published the names and ages
       of all the people murdered that year.
I counted 13 infants in that list of over 300 names.
Oh, God, why infants?

Nearly every murder victim was black and nearly every murder was connected to drugs in some fashion— selling, buying, cheating, desperation, revenge, territory, war.

Our esteemed Mayor, Martin O’Malley vowed to clean up
The worst of the drug-infested neighborhoods in Baltimore,
       the city that bleeds.

So the residents could walk on the streets
       and not fear drive by shootings
or crack dealers harassing kids on the way home from school
or dirty needles on the sidewalk that a kid could pick up
       and get hurt with.

Some say he’s been successful
Some say they’re not afraid to walk their streets anymore.
But the dealers and the junkies move on
And we still have 167 daddies, sons, brothers
       and little boys dead this year
in Charm City, the city that barely reads,
       the home of Harborplace, the Ravens, and The O’s.

And I just wonder if we had 167 murders this year
or any of the past 5 or 10 years
at Camden Yards, the home of the O’s or Harbor place,
or the tree-lined, manicured, gardener-tended lawns of the tony
city neighborhoods of Roland Park or Guilford or Homeland
where the wealthy business folk live
instead of the poor who have no connections, no power
and don’t know the mayor well enough to get an appointment,
what kind of outrage and action
       would our politicians and police face?
I’m just asking.


—Ann Bracken
8-30-2002


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This story was published on September 4, 2002.
  
SEPTEMBER 2002
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·Homicide, The Real Story
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NEWS MEDIA CRITIQUE
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