Sunday, December 21, 2014

Law and Order meets Life on the Street

Yesterday's murder of two New York Police Department officers is inevitably been seen as a New York City story, which among other things has to do the heavy media presence in the city in general, and the Fox News presence in particular -- the story is being packaged with not so subtle messaging about its link to protests against recent deaths at the hands of police.

But anyway, it should be seen as a story as much about Baltimore as Brooklyn. Even on television, Baltimore provided the masterpieces of gritty crime series (Homicide and then The Wire). In this case, the killer had shot his girlfriend at a Baltimore suburb apartment building before heading to New York, and Baltimore had already seen a shooting of a policeman apparently motivated by the previous tensions over Ferguson and related incidents.

More broadly, Baltimore is afflicted by everything that's wrong with the interaction of American urban and gun control policy. It's a poverty-stricken city in a state that attempts to implement gun control policies, but sits on the border of a state -- Virginia -- where the only question is how many guns per month you can buy. In turn, Baltimore is just a short day's drive up I-95 from Georgia, where there's an entire sub-industry that lives off allegedly local-use gun sales that repeatedly find their way into crimes north of the Potomac river.

The Brooklyn shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, was a Georgia resident with a girlfriend in Baltimore and connections in Brooklyn: the East Coast gun transit system ("Iron Pipeline").