Marathon and crime, mayor responds
Some days, well, actually, most days, you just can't win.
Mayor Sheila Dixon sent me an e-mail Saturday night calling my article on Friday on crime along the marathon route "unacceptable." Within the hour, a reader from Little Italy sent me a note accusing me of covering up a murder near her home in order to placate the city and advertisers.
The mayor said she wasn't sure what the Baltimore Sun was trying to prove with the article and she mentioned that residents who live along the route in some of the depressed areas of the city worked hard to make the runners feel welcome and contribute to the day's festivities. I have no doubt that is true.
The purpose of the article was not to scare people away but to simply note that the 26.2 running route cuts across several different types of neighborhoods in Baltimore, from the upscale waterfront to places hit hard by drugs and crime. It wasn't meant to scare runners away but to show something that everyone, including event planners, took into account when designing the course -- crime. I thought it was an important reminder to people that we shouldn't sweep our problems away by not talking about them. Thousands of runners ran by delapidated rowhouses, corners that on other days are open air drug markets, and within a block of where 12 people got shot at a cookout in July.
I would agree with my critics if this was the only article on the marathon this newspaper did, but mine was a bit part in a sweeping landscape of coverage, that included front page stories on the "greening" of the event, on a local serving in Iraq duplicating the race in the war-torn country and several other stories about the runners and the day. On the front page of today's newspaper are photos of the race and of a man proposing to his girlfriend. The unfortunate death of a runner is on the inside of the paper (for two television stations, the death was their lead story of the night).
I have to mention that about 1 p.m., a man was shot and wounded in the 700 block of Kenwood Ave. That's one block off the marathon course, near Linwood and Madison streets. It happened shortly after the last runners had rounded that very corner.
Crime is a hard thing to write about. If I write too much or on topics like crime and the marathon, to many I'm a spoilsport for ruining a "great day for Baltimore" even though it's a topic that many people talk about. How many runners come back from the marathon commenting on what East Baltimore looks like? (though many runners said they get their best support from residents lining those streets). At the same time, if I don't write about crime, I get angry e-mails accusing me and the newspaper of helping in a cover-up.
The reader in Little Italy says she has pictures of a blood trail on a street proving what the cops are telling me is wrong. I'll look into it more on Monday. Cops tell me someone was shot coming out of a bar with friends and took a taxi to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries. Police told a reporter that it occurred in the 900 block of Eastern Avenue; it may be the victim walked a few blocks leaving a blood trail.
I won't convince the mayor that I wasn't trying to ruin a great day for the city by plotting crime along the marathon route and I won't convince the Little Italy resident that I'm not complicit in a cover-up of crime.
Here are their letters:
Mayor Sheila Dixon (confirmed through spokesman):
This article is unacceptable. I am not sure what the Sun is trying to prove but this article was not necessary. This is a green event and all those communities you named had young people get involve in planting trees etc. This involvement showed people coming together.
Little Italy reader:
Someone was murdered near my house last night in Little Italy at Albemarle and Trinity Sts. There is blood all over the sidewalk with a trail leading to the parking lot nearby where the man died. This happened around 1:30 A.M. When I checked the Sun web site for information there is none 17 hours later. The police said that it was a group of three men coming from Mo's (again, again, again), that they shot one guy and fled. Do you only report on weekdays now or are you covering it up to protect advertisers at the expense of citizens? Nice to see the Sun participating in a cover-up for the sake of promoting tourism at the expense of their waning reputation. Shameful.
There were fifty people at the crime scene and numerous police officers. What good is the Sun if it selectively reports the news or waits until the tourists have gone home for the weekend?
The Baltimore Sun, now worse than useless, dishonest. Hundreds of people know about this. Why don't you?
After telling her what the police told us, I got this:
Cover-up. I have daytime photos of the blood trail on Albemarle St, not Eastern Ave. Oh well. Still, it is odd that a shooting was not reported by the Sun. Advertising. Moving the crime falsely to Eastern Avenue is a lie, but one that Little Italy advertisers can live with. I've seen the blood
trail. It's not a rumor. Never mind.