Martin O’Malley is running for President and with the latest Hillary Clinton stumble, many Democrats are finally giving him a first look, since – despite months of campaigning hard – he was still polling at zero. But along with the latest twitter hashtag #askaMarylanderaboutOMalley, I thought I would give you my thoughts on why Martin O’Malley can’t become the next President of the United States. This article is specifically about Martin O’Malley’s record with African Americans.
For today’s history lesson we are going to go back to 1999. Fresh-faced, white City Councilman Martin O’Malley was running for Mayor of Baltimore on a platform of reducing murders to below 175 per year. After winning a three way primary by splitting the African American vote, he instituted a zero-tolerance policy and also the vaunted CompStat Program (an accountability tracking system which soon became CitiStat and what Martin O’Malley was known for…despite it being taken directly from New York City and Mayor Rudy Giuliani). CompStat/CityStat pushed for statistics and one of the major ones that commanders were questioned on were arrests, so naturally arrests skyrocketed.
The Baltimore City Police force arrested over 100,000 per year, mainly black males, on “quality of life” crimes. 1 out of 6 citizens in Baltimore City were arrested, again, mainly African American men for such ridiculous charges as “sitting on a stoop and littering a candy wrapper.” Now this had another benefit for Mayor O’Malley. Because the State-run Central Booking couldn’t keep up with the non-stop arrests being conducted by the City Police, then Governor Bob Ehrlich was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union, and ironically the City of Baltimore joined the suit against the State. Martin O’Malley’s own father-in-law, then Attorney General Joe Curran, even said that the City needed to step up and be a part of the solution and not the problem.
And what was the result of these mass arrests? A drop in crime? Maybe. Martin O’Malley likes to say that Baltimore led the nation in violent crime reduction, but the jury is still out on that because there were heavy accusations of the books being cooked. See, when Martin O’Malley became Mayor he ordered the Police Department to audit the crime statistics and reclassify crimes that were previously lesser crimes, to be made violent crimes so that 1999 was the most dangerous year in Baltimore history. So when you compare Baltimore’s numbers before O’Malley reclassified them, it actually puts the city in 6th place for crime reduction during O’Malley’s tenure. And that 175 homicide goal? The closest O’Malley ever got to it was 253 per year.
Now we’ll jump ahead to 2013. Baltimore’s two Mayors since O’Malley, both African American Women – convict Sheila Dixon and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, both turned their backs on the O’Malley policy of mass arrests. Baltimore had a crime wave during the summer and now Governor Martin O’Malley couldn’t help himself but to write an editorial in the Baltimore Sun with an “I told you so” style of saying that if they just continued his zero-tolerance policy, things wouldn’t be so bad. Mayor Rawlings-Blake rejected the idea of returning back to mass arrests in a rare public spat. “Returning to the days of mass arrests for any and every minor offense might be a good talking point but it has been proven to be a far less effective strategy for actually reducing crime,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake told the Baltimore Sun.
She should have capped it off by pointing out that in her worst year as Mayor, and after rejecting O’Malley’s policy of arresting every black male walking down the street, Baltimore recorded 235 murders in 2013, far less than Martin O’Malley ever did. And her best year saw Baltimore drop down to 197 murders in a year, far closer to the O’Malley goal than he saw, without a policy that scarred thousands of black residents and created fear and distrust with the police department.
Now we’ll jump ahead to August 9, 2014, the day that would make Martin O’Malley’s tough crime policies, once considered an asset for a Democrat and also one that he doubled down on in retrospect, now a liability: 18-year-old black male Michael Brown was shot by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Despite the shooting being deemed justifiable, it galvanized and became a rallying cry for every black male that had been victimized by an overzealous police department trying to replicate the demand for mass arrests required by a statistics based accountability system searching for flawed metrics.
And before you go thinking that Martin O’Malley doesn’t need the black vote to win, he won Baltimore City’s Mayor without the overwhelming support of black voters and he’s obviously working hard to target Hispanics (or as he calls them “New Americans”), remember that Hillary Clinton won the Hispanic vote in 2008 by 2 to 1 and she’s not planning her own presidential library just yet.