When The Lawless Stand Up

Recently, in American Greatness, I examined the significance of the crushing electoral defeat of Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore’s George Soros-backed city prosecutor. Seventy-two percent of Democratic voters rejected her pro-criminal agenda. The victory for law-abiding citizens was huge.

Of all the corrupt, dysfunctional, crime-ridden Democrat-run U.S. cities, Baltimore stands out as the prime example of the result of destructive leftist policies. Under Mosby’s pro-criminal tenure, murders in “Charm City” skyrocketed 62 percent during her first year in office alone. In the course of her nearly eight year’s in office, more than 2,500 people (and counting) have been killed in Baltimore. More than 92 percent of them were black.

And this year, Baltimore’s homicide rate is the highest in its history. Fact is, the vast majority of murderers are repeat offenders. If those offenders had been in jail serving out their proper sentences instead of breathing free air thanks to Mosby deals, many, if not most, of those killings would have been averted

Ivan Bates won the July 19 Democratic primary because of his pledge to incarcerate repeat violent and gun offenders and his vow to reverse Mosby’s policy of refusing to prosecute “low-level” quality-of-life crimes. 

Americans of all races want safety, law, and order in their communities. Contrary to leftist-elite propaganda, law-abiding minority citizens want the police in their communities. Eighty-one percent of black Americans want as many or more police officers in their neighborhoods. That’s not surprising. Black people in blue cities are overwhelmingly victims of the violent crime caused by leftist policies. They know first-hand what happens when police are vilified, defunded, and marginalized—and criminals are not punished. 

Speaking after Bates’ historic victory, Reverend P. M. Smith, pastor of Baltimore’s Huber Memorial Church, told the simple truth: “When you ask the lawful officers in this city to stand down, then the lawless stand up.”        

Expectations in Baltimore are high. But two obstacles threaten Bates’ success. 

First, unlike the recall of Chesa Boudin earlier this year in San Francisco, where his replacement was appointed almost immediately and is already restoring the rule of law, Bates won’t take office until next year. Under ordinary circumstances, Mosby will remain in office until January. She has ample time to do more damage. 

It’s possible the timeframe for Bates’ swearing-in might be moved up a little. Mosby’s trial on federal charges for perjury and mortgage fraud is scheduled to begin this month. Based on all we know, I anticipate a guilty verdict.   

The second and more important obstacle is the sabotage by Brandon Scott, Baltimore’s left-wing Democratic mayor. Scott shares Mosby’s ideology, fully supports her pro-criminal policies, and has never voiced a word of criticism—no matter how many black bodies piled up. He continues to order Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Michael Harrison not to enforce many criminal laws. 

Scott is also anti-police. As city council president, he led the campaign that cut BPD’s budget by $22 million. His five-year police-reduction crime plan delegitimizes the police by describing BPD as a systemically racist institution and “reimagines” policing by replacing cops with social workers and “violence-interrupters.” The ideology and jargon of critical race theory and Black Lives Matter movement pervade Scott’s rhetoric.

Ivan Bates has promised to reverse the disastrous Mosby-Scott policy of refusing to prosecute nine specific quality-of-life crimes. But with Scott as mayor, Bates might not get the chance. Scott’s non-enforcement policy will undermine Bates’ ability to hold offenders accountable. You can’t prosecute criminals if they’re not being arrested.

Consider Scott’s refusal to enforce existing laws against the so-called squeegee kids, whose thuggery is the most visible example of Baltimore’s descent into lawlessness. Many of these teenagers and young adults have criminal records. They mob up on the corners of busy downtown intersections, rush into the street to swarm motorists stopped at red lights, wash windshields without permission, and then demand money—intimidating, threatening, and violently attacking drivers who refuse to pay.  

The laws prohibiting standing in the roadway to solicit business, disrupting traffic, and aggressively soliciting money by blocking and intimidating drivers are clear. Scott and Mosby refuse to enforce them. Ivan Bates is diametrically opposed to both. 

Looking for an excuse for not enforcing the law, the mayor has launched a disinformation campaign based upon the bogus claim that squeegeeing is ”panhandling”—and therefore protected as free speech. The claim is preposterous. Even Mosby doesn’t make that argument.

Baltimore’s squeegee mob is huge—numbering at least 160 young men and teenagers, almost all black. In accordance with leftist-elite ideology, Scott and Mosby believe black criminals are actually the real victims and, thanks to “systemic racism,” they cannot be held personally responsible for their behavior. Therefore, enforcing the law by citing, arresting, and prosecuting these young black lawbreakers is “racist.” 

As a result, lawlessness and violence in Baltimore is simply out of control. 

When drivers say no to this “service” and refuse to pay the extortion, the mob unleashes intimidation and violence. Motorists have been sprayed with chemicals in their eyes, punched, beaten, had their windows shattered, windshield wipers torn off, cell phones taken and thousands of dollars stolen through banking apps, and had guns stuck in their faces. Police officers also have been attacked.       

The result of tolerating such disorder had its inevitable and tragic result last month. Driving through an intersection near the Inner Harbor, Timothy Reynolds, 48, a married father of three, encountered a squeegee mob. Fed up with the lawlessness, he got out of his vehicle to confront them. The mob surrounded Reynolds. One thug hit him in the head with a rock, disorienting him. Then, another pulled out a gun and shot him. Reynolds fell and as he lay helplessly on the street, the shooter cold-bloodedly fired several more bullets into his body—killing him. A 15-year-old squeegee boy has been arrested and charged with Reynolds’ murder.

For many leaders, this horrific act of violence would have been a wake-up call to change a failed crime tolerance policy. But not for Brandon Scott. Instead, he’s become even more intransigent. 

Scott has not only kept his nonenforcement policy in place but has also ordered the Baltimore Police Department to sanction the criminal behavior. BPD officers are now assigned to park their patrol vehicles at the squeegee intersections, activate their emergency lights, sit inside, and passively observe crimes in progress. In effect, police officers are now chaperones for street thugs who intimidate and extort money from law-abiding citizens. Perversely, BPD has already spent nearly 300 hours in police overtime on squeegee thug care and maintenance.    

Because of an anti-police mayor and an ineffective commissioner, morale within the police department is at rock bottom. The department is 500 officers short and annually loses more officers than it hires. In just the first seven months of this year, BPD has already seen a net loss of 100 officers.

For hardworking cops dedicated to serving and protecting their community, being a member of a department, whose leadership doesn’t support them, and whose policy is to look the other way when crime is being committed right in front of them—that’s a dealbreaker. Veteran officers will continue to retire early, leave to join other police departments, or quit the profession entirely. Attracting high quality recruits will become almost impossible. The best don’t want to start a policing career within a dysfunctional organization.   

Anarchy results when criminals know that the police have no support to exercise their lawful authority to maintain order. Exactly what does this look like? See for yourself.  

This television news video shows a veteran BPD sergeant attempting to get one of the “kids” (who is already breaking the law) to at least stop harassing motorists. But instead of interacting respectfully and obeying the police officer’s lawful commands, the teenager, without hesitation, flips into full thug-mode. With his mob looking on, he literally gets into the policeman’s face, aggressively shouting at the sergeant nose-to-nose—only an inch or two from touching. 

Under saner circumstances, that thug would be going to jail. But the sergeant knows that he will not be supported by his mayor, police commissioner, or city prosecutor. Visibly frustrated, he gives up, retreats, and surrenders the street to the mob. 

For any street cop who has served the community and done the job the right way—this video is profoundly sad. The sergeant, the thug, the mob, and the law-abiding citizens all realize that the police have lost their authority and respect. Criminals, who already have no internal brakes of morality-based self-control and now fear no external consequences for illegal behavior—are totally undeterred. Enabled by Scott, Mosby, and Harrison, it is criminals who control Baltimore’s streets—not the police. 

The defeat of Marilyn Mosby was an historic victory for the law-abiding people of Baltimore. Once in office, Ivan Bates’ prosecution of violent criminals will no doubt save lives. But the results will be limited as long as he is being undermined by a pro-criminal leftist mayor and a police commissioner who refuse to enforce the law. 

It’s no surprise that Brandon Scott’s approval rating among Democratic voters is a dismal 36 percent—good people don’t want crime in their city. Scott and his pro-criminal agenda will be on the ballot again in two years, so they will have to wait a little longer before they complete fixing the problem. And no doubt, they will.  

When the police stand down, the criminals stand up. In Baltimore, decent people have received the good Pastor’s message.

About Maurice Richards

Maurice Richards is the former chief of the Martinsburg Police Department in West Virginia. He served as chief from 2015 to 2020 after a 24-year career in the Chicago Police Department. Richards holds a doctorate in adult education from Northern Illinois University. His writing has been featured in Human Events, The Federalist, The Hill, and The Daily Caller

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via GETTY IMAGES

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