Moore: Ongoing violence cannot be allowed to stand
Gov. Wes Moore (D) offered words of condemnation following a shooting on the campus of Morgan State University that left five people injured.
Moore, speaking Wednesday at the start of the Board of Public Works meeting, said more must be done to stem the tide of violent crime and the ease with which firearms are accessed and used against people.
“Unfortunately, we are having to open up another Board of Public Works meeting, acknowledging the fact that there is a very real violence problem building out in our society,” said Moore, who has made similar comments at previous meetings about a mass shooting in Brooklyn Park and another on the Eastern Shore.
In the most recent incident, five people including four students were injured in the shooting that took place around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night near an on-campus residential building at Morgan State University. All five were between the ages of 18 and 22.
“What happened on our campus was such a senseless act of violence perpetrated on our community,” Morgan State University President David K. Wilson wrote in a letter to students and faculty. “It was so disappointing to learn of what took place, especially after what was a family-filled and fun evening of celebrating the pageantry and beauty of our students. But rest assured, our Morgan family is strong, and we will march on with determination to keep moving on.”
Wilson said all the injuries are currently believed to be non-life-threatening.
The shooting at the historically Black institution in Baltimore comes at a time when polls suggest a growing frustration over violent crime.
In a survey released this week by Goucher College, 90% of city voters said crime and public safety were a major issue. The issue appears to be affecting the race for Baltimore mayor. Voters in that poll gave former Mayor Sheila Dixon a 12-point early lead over incumbent Brandon Scott in the Democratic primary next spring.
Moore on Wednesday vowed a continued focus on crime reduction.
“We as a society, we cannot allow this to stand because if we allow it to stand, we’re all going to fall,” said Moore. “And we both have to deal with the very real issue of why it’s so easy for people to get their hands on firearms and why it’s so easy for those who have their hands on firearms, to be willing to pull the trigger on another human being. We’ve got to deal with both. And we will.”
The shootings occurred during celebrations that were a part of the university’s homecoming week.
Moore announced plans this week to attend the homecoming football game Saturday between Morgan State and Stony Brook.
Classes at the university were cancelled for the week along with some homecoming activities. The football game and gala have been postponed.
The governor spoke to reporters following the meeting and was asked if extra enforcement was needed on university campuses and other sensitive spaces.
“We’ve got some of the strongest laws in the country,” Moore said. “And when it comes to gun violence, we have to make sure that those laws are being enforced. We have to make sure we have the resources to bring closure to these violent actions and make sure that we’re stopping this pipeline, particularly when it comes to the illegal guns that continue to flood into our neighborhoods.”
Last week, a U.S. District Court judge blocked portions of the Gun Safety Act of 2023 before it could take effect on Saturday.
Governor pushes back on coverage of agreement with Orioles
The governor also used the meeting to push back on media coverage of a joint announcement with the Baltimore Orioles that strongly implied a 30-year lease of Camden Yards had been signed.
“My comments this morning reflected what I think is a fair understanding of what that memorandum of understanding actually is and I don’t think that has been fairly covered,” Moore said in response to a question from Maryland Matters about the subsequent coverage.
Last week, Moore and John Angelos, Orioles chair and managing partner, appeared on a video screen during a game above the message: “The Orioles, Gov. Wes Moore and the state of Maryland and the Maryland Stadium Authority agreed to a deal that will keep the Orioles in Baltimore and at Camden Yards for at least the next 30 years.”
The all-capitalized statement was made on the same night the team clinched the American League East title.
A day later, a briefing with reporters revealed that was about a memorandum of understanding between the state and team that was not legally binding.
Resulting coverage laid bare the less-than-final agreement. A Baltimore Sun editorial asked whether the announcement was an attempt to gaslight beleaguered fans worried about rumors of the Orioles departing for Nashville or other locales.
Moore, speaking during the Board of Public Works meeting, sought to recast the narrative.
“Last week’s incredibly important announcement was the product of diligent, thoughtful and months-long negotiations,” Moore said. “We now have the final framework that was necessary to move forward with finalizing the deal that will keep the Orioles for 30 years and mark my words and you can bet on it, the Orioles will be here for 30 years.”
Moore discussed the issue during the Board of Public Works’ approval of a $6.6 million construction management services contract for renovations at M&T Bank Stadium. The money is part of a $1.2 billion renovation package approved in 2022.
As part of the deal, the Ravens and Orioles would receive $600 million to improve their stadiums. The money is conditioned upon the signing of new long-term deals by each team.
The Ravens finalized a 15-year deal with the state earlier this year.
The memorandum of understanding lays out a sweeping template on which a lease, if finalized, will be based.
The parameters include turning over maintenance and operations of the facility to the Orioles, who in return will not have to pay rent for the iconic stadium they have occupied since 1992. The deal will also provide Angelos with a 99-year agreement that allows for the private redevelopment of areas around the stadium including Camden Station, parking lots and the warehouse where the team and the Maryland Stadium Authority have offices overlooking the stadium.
But the memorandum does not lay out specifics of a community benefit the governor and others said is required beyond lofty talk of a city renaissance.
“I wanted to be clear about something from the start. This is about more than just sports. This is bigger than baseball. This is not just about a baseball stadium,” Moore said Wednesday morning. “This agreement will play a critical role in shaping the economic future of the city of Baltimore and our state, and it will unlock opportunities for generations of Baltimoreans and generations of Marylanders.”