Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
Even after his loss in a long-shot presidential campaign last year, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has continued to travel around the country, seemingly in an attempt to situate himself as the great hope of the Democratic Party in 2020. His political positioning ignores a deep aversion from the city in which he began his career: Baltimore.
As a Baltimore native, a generally negative opinion of O'Malley is all I've ever known, and the idea of him being a Democratic Party savior indicates the huge issues currently plaguing the party. Although numerous articles have urged liberals to "Take O'Malley Seriously," his claim to have positively reformed Baltimore is wholly without merit. Rather, his policies have plagued Baltimore's most vulnerable, hindering the possibility for reform and reconciliation in one of America's most deadly cities.
During his tenure as mayor, O'Malley implemented broken windows — or zero-tolerance — policing in an attempt to reduce the city's high crime rates. The result, however, was that police officers were encouraged and emboldened to make arrests for minor offenses, under the theory that numerous minor disorders create an environment in which violent crime occurs. Baltimore residents still feel the legacy of zero-tolerance policing today; many citizens believe O'Malley's emboldening of police contributed to Freddie Gray's death in 2015.
In a Medium post published last April, O'Malley wrote, "Cities, for the most part, are safer and better governed today than ever before. There are exceptions to the rule. Some cities haven't yet figured it out. Sadly, my own hometown of Baltimore chose to forget a lot of hard-earned lessons learned about crime reduction."
It would appear O'Malley suffers from selective memory. The hard-earned lessons about crime reduction he alludes to — such as zero-tolerance policing — were thwarted by the ACLU and NAACP for abusing and discriminating against Baltimore citizens, particularly people of color. Perhaps he is also referring to the numerous constitutional violations the Justice Department found in its investigation of the Baltimore Police Department — violations that merely echoed what Baltimore citizens have been saying for years and resulted in a $5.7 million settlement.
O'Malley's revisionist history of his impact on Baltimore is tinted with a veneer of false idealism. The legacy of his administration indicates his inability to stay in one place long enough to serve any agenda other than his own ladder climbing, regardless of his very real effect on the people of Baltimore.
When you see O'Malley positioning himself as our Great White Savior and espousing his plan to restore the American Dream, it's important to remember his legacy in Baltimore. It's important to remember that his policies created a climate in which community policing is an oxymoron and propelled Baltimore into the spotlight time and time again as a city of nothing but crime and corruption. Remember George V. King, who was tased to death by Baltimore police; remember Freddie Gray, who was arrested and died in police custody; remember Tyrone West, whom Baltimore police arrested in 2013 and whose family claims he was beaten to death.
Remember the actions — and lack thereof — of the O'Malley administration and how they plagued the prospects and experiences of Baltimore's most vulnerable.
CORRECTION: Due to a columnist error, a previous version of this column said Baltimore police killed Freddie Gray. Six officers were charged and none were found guilty after Gray died in police custody. The previous version also said Baltimore police killed Tyrone West, who died in police custody. Maryland and Baltimore paid the family to settle a wrongful death suit, and no officers were charged. This column has been updated.
Sarah Riback is a sophomore English and sociology major. She can be reached at email@example.com.