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Horowitz: Baltimore criminalizes restaurant owners while releasing murderers

Op-ed

Orwellian

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What do you call a place that uses a virus to criminalize the opening of schools and restaurants while using the same pretext to release violent criminals? What do you call a place that shuts down dining but leaves open drug markets? We used to call it Sodom and Gomorrah. Today, it's better known as Baltimore.

Welcome to what was formerly Charm City, a place where food is now treated like dangerous drugs and drugs are treated like food. As of Friday evening, Baltimore will be closing all restaurants to indoor and outdoor dining. Churches have already been severely limited in capacity. As if government can control private life and infringe upon constitutional rights. Schools have never reopened in this city full of beleaguered youth, and it has had a mask mandate in place forever.

But there is one activity the city government will not control because it is extremely essential — drug trafficking. Everywhere I walk when I unfortunately have to venture across the city line from my home, I can catch the pungent smell of drugs. The open-air drug markets that are rampant in this dying city are de facto exempt from the royal edicts.

"That hookah bar can wait. That brunch can wait," Mayor Brandon Scott said. "We have to keep our family and the people we love alive."

They just love protecting the sanctity of life … except for victims of drugs and dangerous criminals.

While the mayor is sternly warning business owners that they will be criminalized for living and earning a living — in order to save lives, of course — city officials are using the virus as an excuse to release some of the worst criminals. Recently, there has been a rash of armed carjackings fairly close to my side of Baltimore County. The police, ever careworn and unappreciated, did their job and caught 14 of the perpetrators, most of whom had prior criminal charges that never resulted in jail time. Well, most of them were released immediately because, you know, COVID. It's all in the science.

Now the city's Orwellian prosecutor is studying new "science" that suggests even murderers need to be released. In the ultimate case of the fox guarding the henhouse, Marylin Mosby, the city's prosecutor, hired a public defender on the taxpayer dime to set free some of the people serving the longest sentences in city jails. "Mosby announced Monday that her office would review the cases of men and women older than 60 who served 25 years in prison or more on a life sentence, or those who served 25 years or more for a crime committed before the age of 18," reported the Baltimore Sun. The excuse? They might have medical conditions that make them vulnerable to coronavirus.

Anyone who lives in this city knows that it is nearly impossible to get locked up for a juvenile crime, no matter how violent. If a criminal is serving a life sentence in Baltimore, he is obviously the worst of the worst. So you can take comfort as a Baltimore resident knowing that while Mosby will prosecute you for opening a business, and police for doing their jobs, murderers will be released and drug traffickers will be treated as a protected class. All because … COVID.

According to the Maryland Public Policy Institute, from 2016 to 2018, Mosby dropped 36% of cases for felony possession of a gun, and only 27% of felony possession cases resulted in a conviction. If you were a betting man, would you put money on Mosby prosecuting "violators" of the COVID religion at a higher rate?

All over the country, we are seeing the criminalizing of life itself in the very cities that are concurrently mainstreaming criminal life. In San Francisco, there is almost nothing you cannot do on the street and get away with it, as drugs, crime, vagrancy, and homelessness skyrocket. Yet what are authorities focused on? They finally reopened playgrounds, but they are forcing 2-year-olds, some of whom are still in diapers, to wear face diapers while they are running around outdoors. They can only play for 30 minutes, they cannot eat, and crying children are to be whisked away. They are essentially criminalizing behavior of children playing outdoors at no risk for a virus that poses no danger to them. I'm sure if they wanted to make a drug deal at the playground, they'd give the local youth more than 30 minutes to complete the transaction or to shoot up.

I've been telling friends over the past few months that while this virus started in China, it has turned this country into China. But that analogy is not fully accurate. At least the Chinese are equal-opportunity authoritarians. Yes, they suppress their people, but at the same time, they don't tolerate violent criminals either. America's major cities, on the other hand, have become a haven for violent criminals, including other countries' violent criminal aliens, and a living hell for law-abiding small business owners.
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