It’s not Ernest Solomon’s 10-month-old daughter’s fault she was born in Baltimore. It wasn’t her fault that her dad died within sight of her, or that nobody knew she was behind the tinted glass of her dad’s locked gold Volkswagen sedan for over an hour.
The elder Solomon, 26, was shot and killed on March 18, Baltimore’s 76th homicide of 2017. There are enough that the Baltimore Sun tracks them like Orioles batting averages–day by day. They even have an interactive map, “Find Shootings Near You,” that looks like a fast-food location map.
Baltimore’s shootings have piled up at a record pace, with 125 dead in 2017 through May 13. A mother whose son was shot in July 2008 started Mothers of Murdered Sons, an organization with far too many mothers mourning their lost children. This year, they held their first “Mother’s Day Cease Fire Weekend.”
Although many of the lost sons’ murderers have never been caught, or there’s not enough evidence for a conviction, this really isn’t as much about justice as it is about humanity.
The image of a baby being saved from dying a hot car transcends politics. Police didn’t open the car because it was evidence in Solomon’s murder.
The man — identified Tuesday as Ernest Soloman, 26, of Brubar Court in Baltimore County — was shot multiple times in the 2400 block of Reisterstown Road just south of Gwynns Falls Parkway and Mondawmin Mall. He was pronounced dead at Johns Hopkins Hospital a short time later, police said.
Then detective Lee Brandt heard a faint cry coming from inside the car.
Moments later, a commotion stirred beyond the yellow tape. A detective opened one of the rear doors of the Volkswagen and pulled a toddler out of the car into his arms. All three women on the corner let out screams.
It had been 90 minutes since police were at the scene.
“Oh my God, a baby was in there this whole time?” [45-year-old Equilla Henriques] shouted angrily at police.
The 10-month old little girl was fine, physically. She probably won’t remember the way her daddy died, but she’s far from “fine.” Baltimore is on the verge of being a failed city, a war zone, with a homicide rate greater than St. Louis, New Orleans, or Detroit–the other contenders for the most unsafe cities in America. Compared to these four cities, Chicago, with 2.7 million residents and 189 homicides, is twice as safe, and New York City is as safe as Disneyland.
This is beyond politics.
There are some who look at the photo of detective Brandt holding the baby and see a political issue. They see Freddie Gray and police brutality and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s infamous remark “we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well” during Baltimore’s 2015 riots.
If you see the photo of Brandt and the baby and your heart is not moved, and you don’t catch your breath when you think about that child’s future, let me suggest that you need to do some serious soul searching.
I’m not saying politics isn’t involved here–in fact, politics is what led to this. People like Rawlings-Blake, Marilyn Mosby and her husband Nick, who as a couple earned the award from Baltimore’s alternative City Paper, “Best Failed Political Dynasty.” The coffee klatch of liberal reformers that run most of America’s large cities reads like a who’s-who of Democrats ascending in their party’s influence (Kamala Harris, anyone?).
But at some point, it has to hit home that 125 people are dead in Baltimore this year…23 percent of the 541 total in seven American cities through May 10/11. Due to a rash of high-profile police fumbles and the resulting racial backlash, many police departments feel impotent to stop a rising wave of violence.
A business owner in Baltimore, who asked to remain anonymous due to death threats he’s already received, chillingly told the Washington Post, “this is a killing field.”
“Since the Freddie Gray situation, even if you call the police and give a description, they can’t touch” the criminals, the business owner said. “They know they’re untouchable. That’s the key.”
The criminals are not going to stop. They are only going to get bolder and more depraved in their behavior–like the Chicago teens who streamed a torture session of a disabled white boy on Facebook.
If we, Republicans and Democrats, who are supposed to be the adults running the country, have an ounce of compassion and hope for the future of our country, we need to take a step back and do what’s necessary to stop what President Trump called “American carnage” at his inauguration.
Law and order do have a place when chaos and disorder rule and result in babies locked in hot cars while fathers die on the street. Can we agree to put our high-handed concepts of “justice” and our opinions of the 2nd Amendment aside for a moment and agree that it has to be stopped. (Taking guns from legal owners won’t stop illegal gun users, by the way.)
Can we put aside our opinions on Donald Trump as a person and agree to keep politics to a minimum, while we clean up the streets of Baltimore, Chicago, and St. Louis? Can we agree that it’s not worth trying to start a race war to keep police from being targeted in cities like Philadelphia and Dallas?
Because if we can’t agree on those things, then we’ve all let a 10-month old baby die in a hot car, because we’ve heard her faint cries, but we don’t care enough to do something about it.