New Baltimore Mayor has a "unique" plan to end gang violence

With the official departure from Baltimore City Hall (at long, long last) of former Mayor Catherine Pugh, leadership has temporarily passed to the new mayor, former City Council honcho Jack Young. But it won’t be enough for Mayor Young to simply sit around the office pointing out that he doesn’t have any million dollar self-dealing schemes selling children’s books to the University of Maryland Medical System. Pugh left Charm City with a lot of very serious challenges to be overcome. Not the least of these is the staggering murder rate, primarily at the hands of the city’s many gangs.

Never fear, citizens. Mayor Young has a plan that perhaps makes up for its dubious prospects with its stunning novelty. All too often, when some of the young gangsters have a beef with each other they immediately look to settle the score with illegal handguns. But under the Mayor’s plan, they’ll set the weapons aside and settle their differences in the boxing ring. (CBS Baltimore)

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young has a suggestion on how the city could help end street beefs — a public boxing ring.

“You know gun violence is something that has been plaguing this city for 10 years,” Young said at a rally against gun violence Sunday, “and you know the murder rate in this city and non-fatal shooting rate in this city has increased. I’m not happy with it and neither should the citizens of Baltimore.”

Young said the city can find other means to settle disputes: “There’s mediation. You know if they really want to settle them, we can have them down at the civic center — put a boxing ring up and let ’em go a box it out.”

“The best man win and the beef should be over,” he added. “Those are some of the things I’ve been thinking about — hoping we can get these people to put these guns down.”

Your first reaction may be to scoff and nobody could blame you. After all, HBO’s iconic drama series, The Wire, wasn’t just a great television show. It was pretty much a documentary with the names of real people being changed to avoid lawsuits.

But even with that said, could this conceivably work? If you set up a boxing ring and invite the gang bangers to come down there and settle their differences that way, would anyone show up? Sure, it seems rather unlikely. If there are going to be a bunch of cops and elected officials hanging around, people with criminal records may be reluctant to approach. Also, if one person is noticeably bigger than the other or has a reputation for being proficient at fisticuffs, the smaller of the two has little incentive to climb in the ring. And what’s to stop the (sore) loser of the bout from coming back later with a Saturday Night Special and settling the matter permanently?

But hey, if it doesn’t cost too much, why not give it a try? It’s not as if anything else they’ve done has been working all that well.

His other idea might have at least a little more promise. How about an official system of mediation? You wouldn’t want to have police officers handling it, but perhaps the word could be put out that some civic and religious leaders are available in a neutral space for the two sides to sit down for a session of arbitration. Perhaps some leniency from the Baltimore PD for the gangs that agree to participate could be offered.

I realize these probably sound like crazy or even hopeless plans, but Baltimore is basically a killing field during the summer and neither the city nor the state has been able to do much to curb the violence. New ideas are needed, and if the new mayor can cut down on the violence even a little it will be better than nothing.