Bathed in hot white light, Thomas Frazier was being questioned last night in City Council chambers about what he would do as Baltimore's next police commissioner.
Complaints of brutality, racism and deadbeat cops were being lobbed at him like grenades. People cheered for their champions.
Then came 2nd District Councilman Carl Stokes' turn -- and the room fell silent. In a simple plea for help from the representative of East Baltimore's most-crime-ravaged neighborhoods, the voice of the locked-in and fearful came quavering and rumbling.
"Tonight, there will be gunshots in my neighborhood," Mr. Stokes said. "And the police think that's OK. I guess they think it's OK because tomorrow they're going to be shooting in my neighborhood again.
"And last night they were shooting and the night before that. So it must be OK for people to shoot in my neighborhood every night. It must be OK. Because I know you guys are brighter and smarter and better and more competent than to allow it to happen every day. I know you are."
The Democrat fixed his eyes on the man who would be the city's next commissioner.
"Commissioner, I can't wait until tomorrow," Mr. Stokes said. "I can't wait because my mom can't wait. And my grandparents can't wait. And the people in this room can't wait. I can't wait for you to get settled. I can't wait for you to get on the job.
"Because tonight, there will be gunshots in my neighborhood."