Baltimore Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young suggested on Thursday that the city’s leadership should not be held responsible for Baltimore’s consistently high murder rate because none of the leadership members personally committed any murders.
“There is not a lack of any leadership on my part. I have been moving this city forward … you know, because I’m not committing the murders and that’s what people need to understand,” Young told reporters during a press conference. “I’m not committing the murders, the police commissioner is not committing it, the council is not committing it. So, how can you fault leadership?”
Young’s remarks were in response to an opinion piece written by Y in Central Maryland President John Hoey, who blamed the city’s skyrocketing murder rate on the local government lack of initiative. Hoey penned the op-ed after a 31-year-old Y coach was killed during a home invasion while in his Baltimore residence.
Mayor Jack Young on Baltimore homicides: "I'm not committing the murders. The police commissioner has not committed it. The council's not committing it. So how can you fault leadership?" https://t.co/Yg9MMRnUTE pic.twitter.com/5XExpSMGA2
— FOX Baltimore (@FOXBaltimore) November 13, 2019
“The truth is that we are in the midst of an existential crisis in the City of Baltimore. Our homicide rate is among the highest in the country, and the pace of violence and victims this year is exceeding last year’s already high pace,” Hoey wrote. “The reasons for this level of violence are complex and interlocking.”
“There is no one thing to be done to fix it, but there are definitely a set of laws, practices and actions at both the local and state level (with federal assistance) that could be used to significantly reduce the rate of violent crime if we had the will and focus to do it,” he continued. “Other cities have successfully reduced their violent crime rate significantly, but in Baltimore we have had not just a crisis of confidence but, in my view, a crisis of leadership.”
City Council President Brandon Scott, who is challenging Young for Baltimore mayor, slammed Young for his response in a statement, according to Fox 45 News.
“Mr. Mayor, respectfully, this can’t be our response to violence as elected leaders in Baltimore,” Scott said. “Our residents deserve to know their leaders have a vision to coordinate our precious resources in the fight against violent crime effectively and urgently, not passing the buck.”
The city of Baltimore is already bracing to surpass the 300 homicides mark for the fifth year in a row — as of mid-November, 296 individuals have been killed in the city.
Baltimore had the worst homicide rate among the 50 largest cities in the country, as well as the second-highest violent crime rate overall, according to FBI data released in 2018. At the time, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan called the news “shocking and disappointing,” but further noted that “it doesn’t come as a complete surprise.”
Young became the mayor of Baltimore in May 2019 after his Democratic colleague, former mayor Catherine Pugh, stepped down amid investigations into corrupt business dealings. He had previously served for nearly a decade as the president of the Baltimore City Council.
Young’s campaign manager later issued a statement trying to clarifying his initial comments.
“While no leaders in our city are personally responsible for these crimes, ALL of us have a role to play in stopping them. And, as mayor, I take and will continue to take responsibility for making our city safer and cleaner,” he wrote. “But the City leadership can’t do it alone. We need community leaders, stakeholders, and everyday Baltimoreans to come together and work to reduce gun violence.”