Ravens on Sunday said they will not work with officials at their stadium to raise security funds after staff were also asked to promote the banner
The city councilman who lives in Baltimore’s hardscrabble 5th district, where a new spate of violence has left dozens dead and wounded, is speaking out against what he sees as state prosecutors’ undermining of their role in putting violent offenders behind bars.
His district has not experienced the citywide shooting rate, homicides and robberies that have plagued public spaces around Baltimore this spring. But the precinct, some of it populated by students at historically black institutions, is tightly integrated into the area around the intersection of Liberty Heights Avenue and Belleview Avenue.
Baltimore City council representative Brandon Scott, who represents 5th district, said: “Here you have a perfect example of corruption in the state’s attorney’s office, because they are giving weapons to people to be held accountable for a crime that they committed. This is not a peripheral crime like we had in the past.
“We didn’t have that kind of violence before and to give free guns to people so they are ready to use them again and again.”
Amid a homicide increase of 20% in the city between January and February, Scott has recently announced his intention to introduce a bill to reinstate a curfew for teens in the county in a county where violence is down 21% since last year.
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The assault on Baltimore’s youth stemmed, Scott said, from the state attorney’s office’s reaction to crime spike this year – a response, he alleged, to pressure from city and state officials. The Baltimore Times reported earlier this month that state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby in January sent a letter to the Baltimore police department urging officers to link gun traces with arrestees to expedite criminal prosecutions. The letter, addressed to an assistant police commissioner, asked how many times the trace had been linked to previous offenders.
Mosby’s office refused to comment on the letter when approached by the Guardian.
Scott said: “What she is doing is sending a message that the only way to hold these people accountable is through a plea deal. Instead of taking the time and the trouble to arrest people and hold them accountable for their criminal actions, it’s going to be all money thrown at it, so to speak.”
Melissa Fogleman, Mosby’s chief of staff, said in a statement: “The facts show that our office is committed to putting the criminals that violate the laws of the State of Maryland in jail to serve time in jail. We are willing to investigate additional ways to ensure that crimes are being investigated and vigorously prosecuted by the BPD and we are committed to holding everyone in this City accountable for their role in making Baltimore City safer.”
Since Thursday, Baltimore Ravens officials have publicly distanced themselves from Mosby after she asked the team to promote an illegal banner being hung in a public space and to encourage supporters to donate to a violent crime endowment fund at the team’s stadium, M&T Bank Stadium.
“Our primary focus right now is on the safety of our fans, which includes leading the charge in helping to tackle violent crime in our city,” the Ravens wrote in a statement. “We have also noted with concern the charges of misuse of the team image that were recently brought by the Baltimore office of the state’s attorney.”
Mosby, who is African American, announced her candidacy for state’s attorney last year, during the height of the riots in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died after being injured in police custody. She has spent years cultivating her reputation as an adversary of, and in the words of one track from one of her 2008 Senate campaign commercials, the “progressive liberal establishment”.
A Mosby spokeswoman, Shareese Churchill, said: “She is seeking criminals to lock them up.”