Baltimore, Maryland — 12-year-old Jaylen Richard’s life was cut short on the streets of Baltimore City. His family says he was on house arrest for theft charges, but they say it’s all because he was hanging out with the wrong crowd. “They were still dragging my baby through the streets because they knew he couldn’t be charged,” his mother said.
Patty Hawkins says her son was in a similar grip of gang violence, being influenced by adults in Baltimore.
“It’s easier to have children sell drugs for you than you to get a charge yourself for selling drugs. For me, to know my son was struggling keeping himself out of a gang, that really hurt,” she said.
Former FBI Agent Dr. Tyrone Powers says Baltimore is a city full of gangs. While he says many are more disorganized than you’d think, he says the one thing they have in common is the victimization of young people.
“The cycle is they’re victimized and traumatized; they need protection. It doesn’t come from police or family, so they almost have to join with the gang for protection, and the cost of joining a gang isn’t money, but it’s for them to commit other violence,” said Powers.
Powers said that they then begin to victimize others. It’s a vicious cycle that traps those who can’t escape their environment.
“It’s going to get even more problematic as we get into the summer months as young people are targeted even more for victimization and recruitment,” said Powers.
Powers said there seems to be hesitation from city leaders to label gangs for what they are.
“This has always been a city where politicians and people in positions of power have wanted to address their image and position more than they want to address the problem,“ said Powers.
Former police commissioner Ed Norris agrees.
“When I was commissioner, the mayor tried to tell me, ‘don’t say the word ‘gang.” I refused. We have gangs. They’re violent gangs. They’re the cause of all the misery in the city. Why would you not acknowledge it,” he said.
Several times this week, we asked the mayor and police commissioner if there’s a trend of adults using children to commit crimes, and if there’s a gang problem.
Taken from the Fox 45 Article “City in Crisis” April 22, 2023.