Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes (D), who made national headlines when he equated calling rioters “thugs” with calling them the N-word on CNN, said crimes, including “open-air drug markets,” are “allowed to happen” in certain areas of the city.
Speaking with WMAL radio in Washington, DC, Stokes said “elected officials and law enforcement,” allow open-air drug markets to operate in certain areas of Baltimore.
“We know that many of these communities, which have more than its share of bad activity and bad actors,” Stokes said, “are those who live there, the greater majority of good citizens, the greater majority are our moms, our dads, our grandparents, our retired citizens, Mrs. Jones who’s a widow who retired from the education system, and many kids. We know that the majority of those citizens are good citizens. But, to be frank with you, they’re often, their communities are not policed effectively. In other words, things that happen in those communities would not be allowed to happen in some other middle-income, upper middle-income neighborhoods. Would not be allowed to happen. Open-air drug markets would not be allowed to happen. And yet they are allowed to happen in many of these neighborhoods we’re talking about.”
When asked who was allowing these open-air drug markets to continue to exist, Stokes said, “We draw circles or lines around these communities and we say, ‘On this side of the line you can not have open air drug markets, you can not do…’ but people on this side, people who want drugs, who buy drugs, they’re allowed to come across the boundary and buy the drugs, open-air, on this side of the line.”
“That’s who’s allowing it, we are allowing it.”
Stokes was then asked when, if politicians know these drug markets are happening, it will be stopped. The councilman said, “Well, I’m not saying anything that’s that outrageous that you or any other citizen can’t see with your own eyes. And that the people who live there are so furious about the fact that they tell the police daily, and they tell their elected officials daily, who’s doing drugs, where they live, what their names are, what they’re wearing today, and what time these actions are taking place. And I’ve got to believe that I’m not so naïve that it doesn’t happen in places like Washington, DC, or boroughs in New York, maybe it only happens in Baltimore. But in Baltimore people do open-air drug markets and they get away with it. And, obviously, they get away with it in front of the eyes of elected officials and law enforcement.”
Famously, the television show “The Wire” on HBO, which was set and filmed in Baltimore, had a story arc called “Hamsterdam” where police in the western district allowed open-air drug markets to operate in certain areas of the city in an attempt to contain the activity and lower crime elsewhere.
Listen (relevant part starts at 4:12):