Pastor calls on east side to push city for change

CURE's Golden speaks on crime, education

January 15, 2002|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

East Baltimore residents must demand that Mayor Martin O'Malley and other elected officials continue trying to reduce crime and address other city problems including education, the Rev. Johnny N. Golden Sr. told about 250 people last night.

"What's going on in our city when ... it's no longer en vogue or fashionable to care for the young and dying?" said Golden, president of Clergy United for the Renewal of East Baltimore. "Nobody wants the wretched anymore. Everybody wants to get rich off of the poor."

Golden, 50, spoke at New Unity Baptist Church in East Baltimore, where he has been pastor for seven years. He has lived on the east side for 40 years.

As he delivered CURE's "state of the city" address, Golden chastised City Council members for not being present. "The council members will use their Monday night meeting as an excuse for not being here tonight," he said. "But if you do a roll call tomorrow night, you'll see that a third of them did not make it" to the council meeting.

During his 45-minute address, Golden said the city has four core issues: public health, public safety, economic development and education.

Affordable health care for all Baltimoreans is a must, he said. And Golden talked about what he called "the abandonment of the East Baltimore community" by health care organizations and institutions.

He said that given the stature of Johns Hopkins Hospital, it's a shame East Baltimore has "one of the highest cancer rates in the state, if not the nation."

Golden also said the city's homicides - 259 last year - need to drop significantly.

Killings last year "dropped by two, so if my numbers are correct, then statistically that was no change," Golden said. "And that was still 259 people who lost their lives."

O'Malley spokesman Tony White said the city is trying to decrease its yearly homicide total.

"This past year there was only a reduction by two in the homicide rate, and of course that's not where the mayor wanted it to be, but we still have to keep in mind that when the mayor came into office in 1999 there were 305 homicides that year," White said in a telephone interview.

"And violent crime overall is down 24 percent across the city," White continued. "So while it's no question the mayor was disappointed that the policing efforts didn't have more of an impact on the homicide efforts last year, progress is being made in the reduction of violent crime in Baltimore."

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