In Broadway East, a community abuzz over a murder
In this corner of East Baltimore, where vacant houses outnumber occupied residences, the customers at the nearby methadone clinic buzzed about the police activity down the street. Women hustled up to the crime scene tape blocking off the intersection of North Port and East Lafayette streets, demanding to know if the victim was a relative.
The victim's legs and feet peeked out from underneath a sheet as detectives surveyed the scene. Later, with onlookers still watching from a distance, emergency personnel picked his lifeless body up by the arms and legs and put it on a gurney. "He looks light-skinned," one woman said to a group of people. "I think he had braids."
Official information was scant. A police spokesman said an unidentified man was shot at about 11:30 a.m. and pronounced dead at the scene. That much, anyone could've told you.
Residents shook their heads. "Always something around here,' they say.
Around the corner, 48-year-old Yul Henderson is trying to keep the block looking clean. He constructed a sidewalk garden - a shrine, he calls it - consisting of bricks, tiles and broken pieces of mirror, all gathered from around the neighborhood, with a tiger statue in the middle.
"For all the people around here, I want them to have something nice," he explains. "If I can't have something nice, then there ain't no sense in doing it."
Nearby is a large pile of trash, which he says he collected from around the area. As quickly as he can pick it up, more gathers. But he's pleased that the city will take it from where he piles it up.
"When you see stuff like this, it's not a trash can. This is art. This is gifted," he says. "When the tornado came, it blew down my fence, but it never touched this."
Like so much in the city's troubled neighborhoods, there's a link to crime here: Henderson created the shrine in memory of his son, also named Yul, who was shot and killed in a robbery in 2007. He was 21 years old.