Baltimore again reaches 300 homicides
Just before Thanksgiving, Mayor Brandon Scott announced that Baltimore officially reached its 300th homicide of 2022. This is the seventh year that we have hit this tragic benchmark.
Scott released a statement blaming the deaths on the high number of illegal guns coming into Baltimore from other places. However, that’s a simplistic response that ignores the root causes of violence. Since he took office in 2020, Scott has ignored calls from activists to fund resources for the city, and has instead poured more and more money into a police department that does not stop crime, and sometimes commits crimes itself.
“We need community members to work together to support young people and help them see there are other ways to resolve conflict other than violence,” Scott said. However, there are already community members working in the city, and with more funding, there could be even more working in a greater capacity.
At a press conference, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan — who in July announced a “Re-Fund the Police” initiative, implying that the police had ever been defunded in the first place (they have not) — said that the solution for the high homicide rate was tougher sentences. However, if those worked, we’d be reaping the benefits by now.
Price Rite Closes
The Price Rite Marketplace in Mount Clare Junction will close at the end of the year. The news is a devastating blow to residents of Southwest Baltimore, who depended on it for food. It leaves the area with no full-service grocery stores.
According to a 2018 Johns Hopkins University study, more than half the residents in the area are in what is euphemistically referred to as a “healthy food priority area,” a phrase which, of course, means precisely the opposite of what it says, indicating what used to be called a “food desert.”
As food prices continue to increase, people travel to the store from other parts of the city because of its good deals. Patrick Lee told The Baltimore Banner that he often drove from the rapidly gentrifying Waverly neighborhood to shop at the Price Rite to save money. But, he acknowledged, “If you don’t have a car in Baltimore, it’s gonna be hard to get groceries.”
“In spite of our efforts to build sales to a sustainable level, we have not been able to make the store financially viable,” the store’s spokesperson told the Baltimore Business Journal. In other words, capitalism is saying to poor people in Baltimore, once again, that they don’t matter.
Mount Clare Junction is owned by Carlyle Development Group, which bought the shopping center in 2020 for around $20 million.
Abdi Mahamedi, Carlyle’s president, called the neighborhood “fast gentrifying” at the time of the purchase. Less than three years later, the shopping
g center is left without an anchor, and the neighborhood is left without a grocery store.
There have been long-touted plans for the opening of a grocery store in the controversial Centre/West apartment complex, but a peek in the window reveals an unfinished dirt and concrete floor filled with rubble.
Carlyle’s Mahamedi told the BBJ that they had been working with the city for the last year trying to create incentives to either keep Price Rite or bring in another grocery store.
Here’s an idea: One of the firm’s founders, David Rubenstein, prides himself on growing up poor in Baltimore. He also prides himself on being a philanthropist and was one of the first billionaires to sign on to Bill Gates’ money-giving pledge. So, uh, Dave, how about a fucking hand over here?
In the meantime, Baltimoreans will keep on scraping by. Hollins Market still has fresh produce and poultry, despite being decimated by War Horse Cities, the development company fronted by Scott Plank. But the familiar sound of clopping hooves and the call of an arabber might still be the best bet for fresh food for some of the area’s residents who face mobility or transportation challenges.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story conflated Carlyle Development Group, which owns Mount Clair Junction, with the Carlyle Group investment firm. The two are unrelated. Baltimore Beat regrets the error.