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Real News staffer and Baltimore resident Devon Stevenson discusses the recent increase in violent crime

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JARED BALL, PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome back to the Real News Network. I’m Jared Ball here in downtown Baltimore with our own Devon Stevenson. Want to talk with him a little bit about the spike in murders in this city over the last few months. Welcome to the Real News, Devon. DEVON STEVENSON: How you doing, JB? BALL: As good as can be expected. So from your perspective, you’re from Baltimore. You’re from some of the communities that are talked about all the time, related to all the violence and the crime in the city. Why, from your perspective, has there been an increase in violent crime and murders in Baltimore since Freddie Gray’s killing and over the last couple months? STEVENSON: Well first of all, I really think that the reason why the spike is coming out at an all-time high right now is because now, even though we advanced in a year, but we haven’t advanced in resources for the community. We got people out here that really come from nothing, and the fact that they live in a community with nothing is like, you’re not going to get no positivity coming from that community. So you get a lot of people that’s already enraged with personal vendettas, personal problems, and people just lashing out, man. I mean, it’s no other way to act or respond to a world that’s not designed to help the people that was born into a world where they ain’t have any help. You know what I mean? BALL: Sure. But part of the question was how have those, how have those conditions worsened? In other words, these same problems existed last year. They existed before Freddie Gray was killed. So why do you think that those same conditions are leading to more crime and more hostility now? Why would it be different this year than last year? STEVENSON: Well, the only thing I can say is I feel like people now is just like, they really don’t care. First it was that everywhere, you know people, they would act out. But now it’s just part of the time where it’s like, you’re not getting help. Other things are happening more and more in other states and other cities. And when these kids–because you’ve got the young, the youth, there’s nothing here for them. So when they’re out after the school year, summertime. I mean, they’re out there, they’re amongst each other. It’s so easy to get a gun than to get a job in the hood. So the fact that you can get a gun, what else leads to having a gun? Robbery. Murder. You know what I’m saying. So I just feel like the media itself is starting to open their eyes up to something that’s been going on, and it’s always been an epidemic. But when you say it’s been a spike and it’s been an increase, to people that’s in these communities, man, it’s like the same thing that’s been going on. You know what I mean, just like how you say, well, last year so-and-so, this was taking place. But this was stuff that’s been going on and I feel like media is just really starting to shed light on it, what they should have been doing years ago. Because it’s not like we’re setting records that never happen, you know what I mean. Because if you go back 25, 30 years ago, the same things was happening. BALL: Well they’re saying now, one of the reports was that there have been as many killings in the month of May, for instance, as there were in the month of–they were the highest, the most amount of killings in one month here in Baltimore since December of 1971. And there have been different reports saying anywhere from 40 percent to 60 percent more killings in Baltimore at this time than in previous years. You mention the media. I’m wondering if any of this has to do with young people being able to see in popular media, in social media, all the police violence against black people, all the uprisings in Ferguson, here in Baltimore, do you think that that has anything to do with it? In other words saying like, if it’s open season on us anyway, we might as well get more busy than we’ve been in previous years? STEVENSON: Agreed, but I just feel like it’s just a cluster of what’s already been happening. And I feel like these were big events that was blown up by the media. So yes, this, it’s part of it. But I feel like it ain’t the only–it’s not the only thing. It’s a lot more that just been waiting to just blow up. Basically we’ve been waiting for stuff like this to happen pretty much because the way the world is designed is not designed to help anyone that’s in need. If you really think about it, like, your Fortune 500 companies and stuff like that, they’re getting into a room and fortify a plan for rich people that’s already rich, to keep them from losing tax dollars or anything like this. But to go into a community and just do something as simple as a rec center, or bring some type of community lift in the way of food or anything like shelter, clothes, or anything they have provided for people that don’t have it, they’re not doing. You know what I mean. So there’s nothing being done to actually help these communities. Yeah, they can say it’s like, Section 8 or stuff like that for certain people where they don’t have to pay much for rent. But what are you doing for that area, for that community? Like, it’s nothing like, I can live somewhere for cheap rent, but the environment is poor. So how are you helping these people? There’s no help. And I feel like that’s the real problem, is like, we’re not getting any help. So you ain’t going to get nothing but negativity from a place where can’t nobody even call home no more. Like, you won’t even want to call your neighborhood home, you know what I mean? It’s crazy. It’s crazy. BALL: Devon Stevenson, thank you for joining us here at the Real News. STEVENSON: Thank you, JB. BALL: And thank you for joining us here at the Real News Network. And as always as Fred Hampton used to say, to you we say peace if you’re willing to fight for it. So peace everybody, and we’ll catch you in the whirlwind.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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Jared A. Ball is a father and husband. After that he is a multimedia host, producer, journalist and educator. Ball is also a founder of "mixtape radio" and "mixtape journalism" about which he wrote I MiX What I Like: A MiXtape Manifesto (AK Press, 2011) and is co-editor of A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable's Malcolm X (Black Classic Press, 2012). Ball is an associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland and can be found online at IMIXWHATILIKE.ORG.