Pubdate: Thu, 09 Jun 2005
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2005 The Baltimore Sun, a Times Mirror Newspaper.
Author: Dan Rodricks


DEAR Baltimore drug dealers: I promise this will be the most 
ridiculous thing you've ever heard. Here goes: How about taking the 
summer off to see what it might be like around here without all the 
shooting and killing? Serious. How about a cease-fire? A little break 
could save lives, maybe even your own.

I know this is crazy, the idea of drug dealers just shutting down the 
factory for a few months - too much money to be made, and too many 
customers to serve. And if you back off, even for a little while, 
some other guy in a long white T-shirt will take your place, and 
you'll have to find new work.

But I'm not talking about your quitting the life. I'm asking for one 
step at a time.

You can keep selling drugs. Just stop the shooting and the killing 
that goes with it.

I'm asking you for a break - for your families and friends, the 
little kids who live in your neighborhoods, everybody in this city, 
even those who live in places relatively safe from the violence you 
guys create.

Just stop.



I know what you're thinking: White boy in the newspaper got some 
screws loose. Drug dealers aren't going to suddenly lay down arms. 
Unless everybody goes along with this, there's still going to be 
killing. Some dealers will use the opportunity to wipe out the 
competition forever, and instead of giving Baltimore a period of 
relative peace, this "cease-fire" could result in more assassinations 
than we've ever seen before.


But I dare you to take the chance, show some testicular fortitude - 
you can look that up - and make history. I promise excellent media 
for the drug dealers who honor this truce. If each of you, especially 
the ones who've been at this a while, takes the lead, the rest will 
follow. Brothers, we are so tired of this. We've had 30 years of 
this. Aren't you tired of it too?

You can't tell me all the T-shirts out there want to die young. You 
can't tell me they want to live in constant fear that someone is 
going to walk up with a .357 Magnum and shoot them in the back of the 
head. Would you agree that most drug dealers would prefer just to 
sell their poison and go home?

So give it a try. Starting now. Let's get some do-the-right-thing 
among you. Let's get some honor among you. First, no assassinations. 
Second, everybody pulls back a bit, and you serve your longtime 
customers on established territories, no matter how small they might 
be. No encroaching on others' turf. No ambitious expansions. You got 
it? Everything stops where it is as of today. If you're not making 
enough money, call me at 410-332-6166 and I'll find some way to set 
you up with a part-time job. I know a lot of people in this town who 
would pay to have you come off the killing streets.

Serious. Another thing: I can almost guarantee that, if the shooting 
and killing stops, cops are going to leave you alone. They might not 
say that, or ever agree to such a thing, but I'll bet cash money that 
if you guys lay off each other, they'll lay off you. And you can just 
chill. You can use this time to reassess what you're doing with your 
lives. Do you want to spend your remaining years selling dope, 
risking death or imprisonment? Wouldn't you rather convert your cash 
to, say, good housing stock?


I was on Tivoly Avenue near Clifton Park yesterday morning. Two men 
were shot in the 2700 block the night before - yet another street 
attack in the city of Baltimore, one of the nicest and deadliest 
cities in the country. All you guys who are warring over drug 
territory really ought to get together, pool your funds, and buy and 
renovate houses off Harford Road, across from the park. Have you 
missed this? The two-story homes with the nice front porches are very 
appealing and, if y'all had any sense, you'd be scooping them up at 
bargain rates and putting them on the market.

So, how about it?

How about a break? My brothers, it's time - way past due - to lay 
down your guns, respect each other's territory and stop fighting and killing.

If the cops won't broker a truce, then you all should take it up on 
your own. That would be an incredible thing. And you'd do it out of 
civic responsibility - to make your city a better place and to make 
amends for the drug dealing you do. If you're going to continue to 
make money selling heroin and coke, you can at least drop the violence.

You might save your own butts in the process.