Little Italy residents are considering anti-crime patrols to curb sporadic lawlessness in their tight rowhouse and restaurant neighborhood near Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Convinced that their problems are due to their proximity to a public housing project, some are even talking about erecting a fence to keep "troublemakers" out.
Crime and fear of crime are such a defining feature of life in today's urban America that people's concern for personal safety should not be minimized. But neither should it be exploited for fanning hysteria. Some of the current agitation by Little Italy leaders with unfulfilled political ambitions comes dangerously close to that.
Yet Little Italy's safety concerns are painfully real. So were the NAACP's worries earlier this summer, when that civil rights organization called public attention to crime rampant on streets throughout Baltimore City. In both cases, the official response has been woefully inadequate.