‘All the white folks were gone’
That’s the buried lead in The Washington Post’s story about one block of a devastated Baltimore neighborhood that awaits a bulldozer.
Here’s how bad things are in the city, which is majority blacks governed by blacks.
For more than a century, hundreds of people called this patch of East Baltimore home. Now the 900 block of North Bradford Street is about to be ripped down as a city with 17,000 boarded-up buildings lays waste to its blight and its history.
Baltimore has 17,000 boarded up buildings? Yes, as I noted in a post about a report on NPR.
An excerpt explains what happened to North Bradford:
The block began to shift from white to black during the postwar migration to the suburbs. David Bell, 64, an African American who has lived on the opposite side of the block at 909 N. Bradford for most of his life, can remember when black families and aging immigrants lived side by side. The newcomers called the immigrants “Germans,” no matter where they were born.
“We had an old German man next to us for a long time, used to give us candy,” Bell said. “All the white folks went to St. Wenceslaus [Catholic Church], and the black folks went to Israel Baptist.” On a hot afternoon the week before the demolition was scheduled, Bell was sitting on a Bradford stoop with another longtime neighborhood resident, Alvin Gentry, 64. A commuter train roared by, close enough to make the pavement quiver.
“We used to walk those tracks before Amtrak came,” Gentry said. “Remember those smoky trains?”
“Yes, I do,” Bell replied.
“My grandmother would beat me for coming out of that tunnel all covered in soot,” Gentry said.
The Bradford of their boyhoods had clean sidewalks and flowers in the alley. Miss Ethel sold candy apples from her dining room and frozen ice pops from her kitchen. Mothers swept their stoops first thing every morning.
Agnes Mifkovic, long widowed and still living at 930 N. Bradford, died in 1968 at 83. She lived to see the riots that year, with the National Guard there telling residents to stay indoors.
Bell spent three years in prison for armed robbery in the 1970s. “When I came out,” he said, “all the white folks where gone."
What explains the exodus, which accounts for some of the population decline the story describes?
The Post doesn’t tell us, but you can read between the lines.
First: the schools are compromised before the blacks are moved in, as the school system looks the other way while blacks from really trashed areas send their kids to another school.
Paleface parents with school age children leave.
Property values decline, making it difficult to sell, so houses are rented through government voucher programs or are left vacant and scooped up by speculators who become slum lords.
Second: Thugs move in and teenage and adult sons and daughters of working class whites are beaten, raped, robbed and or killed and flight starts in earnest.
Three: Unrest, riots, purges, the drug war, expand and accelerate #2, with hunter teams roving up to five blocks on foot and across town in cars, to prey on stay-behind whites.
Four: The flower-in-the-window stage, one old lady will stay behind after her men are killed or driven off and keep up the house. As half the houses are vacant and the rest are inhabited by state-subsidized criminals this one lady will keep a nice house. Slum lords will began getting robbed collecting rent and making repairs and decline to maintain the property until it falls vacant.
Five: squatters inhabit the remaining handful of homes while stripping the others of copper. By the time the old lady dies or is moved into an old age home, the few remaining residents are stripping copper form their own dens and leave it vacant except for crack houses, gang morgues and gang gun ranges [they sue the basements for practice].
Six: demolition. In 2003 a team of housing inspectors informed me that there were 25,000 vacant homes in the city and that they only had enough work crews  to board up four houses a day. The figure of 17,000 is low, as it is a massaged government number, like unemployment stats, not reflecting all vacants. The purchasing party is usually Johns Hopkins, which buys up property, erects employee housing and facilities and is slowly turning lower and central East Baltimore into a Greater Hopkins' Corporate City with its own security detail and dedicated subsidized police unit.
Seven: gentrification, in which the white elite take back the ground they targeted for recovery from working whites a half century earlier and the criminal blacks are moved on into outlying working white areas to continue the government-corporate-sponsored Hunt for Whitey, until, eventually, Baltimore will become a shining city, surrounded by murderous slums, ringed be retreating palefaces, headed for the green hills that have ever been the refuge of their hunted kind.