Friday, May 01, 2015
Baltimore Mayor Treads Fine Line in Divided City By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG and NIKITA STEWART
Baltimore Mayor Treads Fine Line in Divided City
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG and NIKITA STEWART
APRIL 29, 2015
BALTIMORE. — With buildings ablaze and looters rampaging through city streets, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake faced television cameras Monday night and sternly denounced the rioters as “thugs.” The next day, with some black residents in an uproar over a word they call racially charged, she walked it back.
“There are no thugs in Baltimore,” the mayor, who is African-American, said at a church, where she met with members of the clergy. “Sometimes, my own little anger translator gets the best of me.”
The episode demonstrates the fine line Ms. Rawlings-Blake, 45, walks as she tries to lead this majority black city out of what she calls “one of our darkest days.” It is also a vivid reminder that the presence of a black mayor (and black police commissioner) does not guarantee a bond or rapport with poor black residents that might help calm a city going through the kind of trauma facing Baltimore.
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Any mayor would surely face challenges under such circumstances. But for Ms. Rawlings-Blake the challenges are especially acute. She must try to bring together two Baltimores, neither of which she is entirely a part of: the gentrified Baltimore of the Inner Harbor and Camden Yards and the frustrated, low-income black Baltimore, with its boarded-up rowhouses.
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