A mayoral snub
Yesterday, as suggested, I attended one of Mayor Sheila Dixon’s public events. It was a tree-planting ceremony at Dewees park, in the north of the city. It did not go well.
I arrived just before 9am, ahead of the mayor, and told her spokesman that, if possible, I would like to speak with her about crime and the issues I have witnessed during my visit. He took the message to her and I was told that it may be possible at the end.
An hour later the spokesman again raised the subject with the mayor and she made it clear there would be no interview. “What does he want?” she asked her spokesman. She said she did not want to speak about crime and added: “I’m planting trees today.”
So there will be no voice from the mayor in anything I write back home.
I leave Baltimore this evening after a spending a week here. I would like to think I have seen many sides of the city. Because of the nature of this exchange, I spent most of my week in neighbourhoods with high crime rates.
But many people throughout my trip had urged me to make sure I also visited the good parts of Baltimore. Yesterday I did that. I walked around Fort McHenry and the inner harbour and then went to some bars in Fells Point.
The city, due to its high homicide rate, is inextricably linked with crime, something which has no doubt been exacerbated by The Wire. But throughout my stay I have also witnessed the many good things the city has to offer.
While certain parts of the city are intimidating, I can assure fellow Brits that the whole of the city is not the murderous, drug dealing haven as is portrayed on the television.
The blog will continue over the next week or so, but most of the updates will now come from Justin who is in the UK until Thursday.
However, The Independent will be running articles from Justin and I throughout the week. I will post the links as and when they are published for those of you who may wish to read them.
The first of these ran in Saturday’s edition, and can be found here.
There is a link to Justin’s first article within the story.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the first part of this exchange. Thanks for reading and thanks for having me.