The city of Baltimore is approaching 300 homicides for the year, and it's not even December yet. Furthermore, a beloved youth sports coach was brutally murdered last week in an incident that sparked outrage and led to criticism of city officials, who many claim are not doing enough to stop the crime wave.
But Baltimore Mayor Jack Young rejects the idea that any of the blame should fall on his shoulders.
"It's not any lack of leadership on my part. I've been moving this city forward," Young said, according to WJZ-TV.
Young went on to claim that since he and the city council are not personally committing the murders, they bear no responsibility for murders that are committed on their watch.
"I'm not committing the murders. And that's what people need to understand. 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? You know this has been five years of 300-plus murders, and I don't see it as a lack of leadership," Young said.
Jordan Taylor, the youth sports coach whose murder sparked the most recent controversy, was killed last week when he tried to stop two men from invading his home. Surveillance camera footage caught three masked individuals outsidse of Taylor's home, but as of yet no suspects have been identified and the perpetrators of Taylor's murder remain at large. The ATF has offered a $5,000 reward for information that leads to their arrest.
Meanwhile, even though their mayor is rejecting any responsibility whatsoever for the city's murder rate, an unlikely group of Baltimore citizens is accepting responsibility: the city's barbers and beauticians. According to WJZ, city council member Zeke Cohen announced an initiative on Thursday in which the city's barbers and hair dressers are volunteering to serve as the city's first line of defense, with the idea that they will start conversations that will hopefully deter violent crime.
"They trust us more than they trust anyone else," said barber Troy Stanton. "We are family, we are extended family."
The barber initiative is the latest ploy from a city that seems to believe that pleas to the public are the most effective line of defense. In the last several years, Baltimore has announced a number of "cease fire weekends" and "nobody kill anybody" weekends in an effort to encourage people to not commit murder, but the city's murder rate remains persistently high.