Letters To The Editor


October 23, 2002

Mayor not doing enough to make Baltimore safe

Anyone who respects human life can only be appalled at the slayings of Angela Dawson and her five children. And it is certainly time for elected leaders, law enforcement, community leaders, religious leaders and all citizens to join together to make all parts of Baltimore safe ("Suspicious house fire kills 6," Oct. 17).

But while Mayor Martin O'Malley and Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris are correct about the shared responsibility of the entire city to fight crime, the fact is that they are part of the leadership of a city that, as The New York Times reported last week, "is the most violent of the country's 20 largest cities."

Although the mayor has taken action against crime, his efforts still fall short.

Instead of appearing unannounced at WBAL radio to respond to criticism of "nitwit politicians" ("O'Malley angered by criticism on radio show," Oct. 18), the mayor should have been rushing to his office and working on a plan to make Baltimore's rate of violent crime the lowest among the 20 largest cities in the United States.

In New York, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Police Commissioner William Bratton significantly reduced the murder rate.

In Baltimore, we hear too many words but don't see enough action. Every day, citizens of Baltimore die in vain.

Mr. O'Malley is an ambitious man; let's see him direct more of that ambition toward making Baltimore the safest city in America.

David Palasits


Baltimore's children are victims of terror

The Dawson family, allegedly murdered by a neighbor, were showing their belief in their city by trying to reclaim the sidewalk around their house ("Suspicious house fire kills 6," Oct. 17).

Productive, civically active families make a community. Yet the only answer the police could give this family was, in essence: "Move or be quiet."

The children who live on those city streets are as much victims of terror as any children in the world.

Mary Neale


Arsonist's act sends unwelcome message

For their efforts to do their part to help clean up this city, a mother and her five children were fire-bombed and burned to death, allegedly by a neighborhood drug dealer ("Suspicious house fire kills 6," Oct. 17).

While an absurd, multimillion-dollar advertising campaign of billboards and bumper stickers eats up precious revenue, this city's inept Police Department and courts continue to deteriorate.

A dead mother and her five dead children give testament to this.

Believe in this, Baltimore: The fire-bomber sent a message to more than just the Dawson family and their neighborhood: If you don't like the dealers or the drugs, stay out of this town. And if you're here, get out. Get out, or we'll burn you out.

As for me, I got the message. Loud and clear.

Donnie Fair


Heeding city's advice can prove deadly

Mayor Martin O'Malley's spokesman, Tony White, really put his foot in his mouth by saying that if any fingers should be pointed over the Dawson family's killing, they should be pointed at the drug dealers ("At rally, fear turns into anger," Oct. 21).

Look what happened when people did just that: They lost their lives pointing at the drug dealers.

Baltimore is sinking and Mr. O'Malley isn't even bailing yet.

Katonah Summertree

Severna Park

Murder of family is a wake-up call

I have become so accustomed to living in a violent society that news of murders and snipers has little effect on me. But the arson killings of the Dawson family jolted me from my self-imposed detachment.

And I found myself wondering: Who was there to protect this family working within the law to maintain decency in their neighborhood?

Al Cyford


Strengthen our ties, rebuild the economy

As a Baltimore resident who lives not far north of Preston Street, my response to the deaths of the Dawson family is not to flee the city -- as so many have -- but to strengthen my relationships with my neighbors.

Dinners must be planned and connections maintained, because it is in numbers that we have strength.

But we also must look to others who have a role to play and ask: Why is the drug game one of the main sources of income for inner-city residents? Where are sources of gainful employment and support for young men in the city?

True change will come when we demand an environment in the city that can support families economically.

Megan Coylewright


Probation system fails the city, again

Apparently, a failure of the criminal justice system in Maryland is responsible for the recent slaying of Angela Dawson and her five children. ("Suspect in fire skirted probation," Oct. 19).

What's going to happen to the probation officer who reportedly failed to properly supervise the suspect Darrell L. Brooks, who was on probation at the time he is accused of causing the fire that killed the Dawson family? And what's going to happen to that probation officer's supervisor?

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