Dealers, deal if you must - but please, stop the killing

June 09, 2005|By DAN RODRICKS

DEAR Baltimore drug dealers: I promise this will be the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard. Here goes: How about taking the summer off to see what it might be like around here without all the shooting and killing? Serious. How about a cease-fire? A little break could save lives, maybe even your own.

I know this is crazy, the idea of drug dealers just shutting down the factory for a few months - too much money to be made, and too many customers to serve. And if you back off, even for a little while, some other guy in a long white T-shirt will take your place, and you'll have to find new work.

But I'm not talking about your quitting the life. I'm asking for one step at a time.

You can keep selling drugs. Just stop the shooting and the killing that goes with it.

I'm asking you for a break - for your families and friends, the little kids who live in your neighborhoods, everybody in this city, even those who live in places relatively safe from the violence you guys create.

Just stop.

Today.

OK?

I know what you're thinking: White boy in the newspaper got some screws loose. Drug dealers aren't going to suddenly lay down arms. Unless everybody goes along with this, there's still going to be killing. Some dealers will use the opportunity to wipe out the competition forever, and instead of giving Baltimore a period of relative peace, this "cease-fire" could result in more assassinations than we've ever seen before.

Right.

But I dare you to take the chance, show some testicular fortitude - you can look that up - and make history. I promise excellent media for the drug dealers who honor this truce. If each of you, especially the ones who've been at this a while, takes the lead, the rest will follow. Brothers, we are so tired of this. We've had 30 years of this. Aren't you tired of it too?

You can't tell me all the T-shirts out there want to die young. You can't tell me they want to live in constant fear that someone is going to walk up with a .357 Magnum and shoot them in the back of the head. Would you agree that most drug dealers would prefer just to sell their poison and go home?

So give it a try. Starting now. Let's get some do-the-right-thing among you. Let's get some honor among you. First, no assassinations. Second, everybody pulls back a bit, and you serve your longtime customers on established territories, no matter how small they might be. No encroaching on others' turf. No ambitious expansions. You got it? Everything stops where it is as of today. If you're not making enough money, call me at 410-332-6166 and I'll find some way to set you up with a part-time job. I know a lot of people in this town who would pay to have you come off the killing streets.

Serious. Another thing: I can almost guarantee that, if the shooting and killing stops, cops are going to leave you alone. They might not say that, or ever agree to such a thing, but I'll bet cash money that if you guys lay off each other, they'll lay off you. And you can just chill. You can use this time to reassess what you're doing with your lives. Do you want to spend your remaining years selling dope, risking death or imprisonment? Wouldn't you rather convert your cash to, say, good housing stock?

Serious.

I was on Tivoly Avenue near Clifton Park yesterday morning. Two men were shot in the 2700 block the night before - yet another street attack in the city of Baltimore, one of the nicest and deadliest cities in the country. All you guys who are warring over drug territory really ought to get together, pool your funds, and buy and renovate houses off Harford Road, across from the park. Have you missed this? The two-story homes with the nice front porches are very appealing and, if y'all had any sense, you'd be scooping them up at bargain rates and putting them on the market.

So, how about it?

How about a break? My brothers, it's time - way past due - to lay down your guns, respect each other's territory and stop fighting and killing.

If the cops won't broker a truce, then you all should take it up on your own. That would be an incredible thing. And you'd do it out of civic responsibility - to make your city a better place and to make amends for the drug dealing you do. If you're going to continue to make money selling heroin and coke, you can at least drop the violence.

You might save your own butts in the process.

Serious.

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