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One of the signs that the country is falling apart is that conservatives seem to have written off major cities. The governor of Texas is busing migrants to New York City, where they cause so much trouble the mayor says they could destroy the city. San Francisco, Philadelphia, and other cities are conservative punchlines. Many liberals take a curious pride in decline, as if it were a sign of cultural authenticity.
It’s my impression that conservatives don’t care what happens to urban liberals anymore, because they brought ruin on themselves. Liberals refuse to learn, because admitting they were wrong would mean admitting we are right. Conservatives should not stop caring, because liberals are as much victims as perpetrators — even as they keep making the same mistakes.
Perhaps the most embarrassing American city is Baltimore. The city that gave us Edgar Allan Poe, H. L. Mencken, and the National Anthem is a wreck. It’s been bleeding population for years, and its rates of drug addiction and crime are soaring. Years ago, the television series The Wire showed the city as unreformable — plagued by corruption, crime, and drugs. Oddly, when President Donald Trump called it a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” The Wire’s creator David Simon complained:
“If this empty-suit, race-hating fraud had to actually visit West Baltimore for five minutes and meet any of the American citizens who endure there, he’d wet himself,” he said. “It means the president, if he stepped out of his limo and found himself suddenly a racial minority, would wet himself on that fundamental alone.”
Mr. Simon seemed to be reinforcing President Trump’s point.
The city is worse now than when The Wire was on the air (2002–2008). One character, shaking his head, says the city is “going to hell” because it might reach the outrageous figure of 300 murders. Now, Baltimore surpasses 300 murders. Last year, it topped that figure by November.
However, Baltimore is still a major port and will probably always be a city of some kind. One of its better-known entrepreneurs was Pava LaPere, founder of EcoMap Technologies. She was a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, one of the few productive institutions still in Baltimore. Forbes listed her on this year’s 30 Under 30 list for “Social Impact.”
Miss LaPere was very outspoken on race. On her X account, which is still up, she often complained about racism, “misinformation,” and bias.
Couldn’t agree more – the earlier you can intervene on issues of ecosystem equity, the less likely those problems are going to become permanently embedded in the culture
It’s awesome to see new tech clusters arise, but not if they share all the same problems as in the past 🙅♀️ https://t.co/IlvAuXN6Qf
— Pava LaPere (@PavaLapere) December 5, 2021
Every article about a Black, Brown, female, low-income, or otherwise underrepresented founder succeeding despite all of the obstacles put in their way
Should not be cause for celebration of how far we’ve come, but a reminder of how far we need to go
— Pava LaPere (@PavaLapere) October 26, 2021
There is definitely not enough conversation about the Canvas debacle
Two white guys raise $50M without trying for their diversity recruiting platform, while dozens of Black & brown founders can’t get funding for the same
There is a crisis in VC and we are NOT talking about it https://t.co/utrZZqbPxk
— Pava LaPere (@PavaLapere) September 20, 2021
This is game changing – the funding & space needed to thrive for Baltimore Black-owned businesses
Thank you @fearlessbmore @DowntownBalt for recognizing & taking down barriers. You are true stewards of Baltimore’s entrepreneurial ecosystem https://t.co/s6MvaxtN3R
— Pava LaPere (@PavaLapere) February 3, 2021
In April 2019, she gave a TED Talk on equity, claiming that the United States “misses out on 300 billion in income and nine million jobs from the 1.1 million jobs that do not exist because rates of entrepreneurship are not equal between white and minority populations.” This was an especially big problem in Baltimore, she said, which is majority black. She said that “thankfully, within entrepreneurial ecosystems, we don’t see too much disparate treatment [overt discrimination based on characteristics], there aren’t a ton of funding programs that say you can only apply if you have low melanin and high testosterone.”
Presumably, all the racial minority-focused programs she promoted in her own X feed don’t count. However, she said her business aimed to eliminate “disparate impact,” because funding standards for entrepreneurs often rule out low-income people who want to start businesses.
She endorsed Black Lives Matter, “now and always.”
The staff of EcoMap is 50 percent female and 50 percent non-white.
In her TED talk, Miss LaPere also promoted Baltimore, including, in a rather sad touch, mocking those who think Baltimore has a crime problem rather than a lack of social programs.
I’ll pay for a copy of this poster for my windows please and thank you https://t.co/mCPKoQpuQZ
— Pava LaPere (@PavaLapere) August 14, 2021
Miss LaPere is no longer with us. On September 22, her body was found on the rooftop of her apartment building with the cause of death listed as “blunt-force trauma” and strangulation. Jason Dean Billingsley, a 32-year-old black man, was arrested after a brief manhunt. He’s also the suspect in an attempted murder on September 19, in which he allegedly raped and tortured a woman after handcuffing her boyfriend.
Jason Dean Billingsley
The boyfriend was a black man; the girl has not been identified, presumably because it was a sex crime. Mr. Billingsly burned both alive but they survived.
Baltimore Acting Police Commissioner Richard Worley said the suspect knew the victims, but did not elaborate. The male victim is angry because Mr. Billingsly stole his phone and used it to make calls. He points out that police could have used this incompetent theft to find and catch Mr. Billingsley before he killed LaPere.
Jason Dean Billingsley appears to have done nothing but spread suffering his entire life. In 2009, when he was 18, he pled guilty to first-degree assault. He got probation, which he broke, and committed second-degree assault in 2011. In 2013, he was convicted of attempted rape and sentenced to 30 years. He was paroled in 2022 after serving 14. He was on “supervised probation” — which evidently did not supervise him very closely — when he killed LaPere.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, a black man, said, “We have to make sure that folks are held accountable in every single way because we are tired of talking about the same people, committing the same kind of crimes over and over and over again.”
However, Mayor Scott is a critic of policing. “We know what doesn’t work,” he said in a 2021 interview. “We know the years when they went out and arrested anybody who looked like you and I, who was breathing while Black, who was outside was arrested for anything. That didn’t make the city safer. We didn’t become a safer city.” He blamed out-of-state guns and called for “programs.”
Mayor Scott has also paid tribute to the memory of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died after being arrested by Baltimore police in 2015, saying that “his name lives on.” I suppose it did, in the sense that Baltimore rioted after Mr. Gray’s death. The officers accused of causing his death, three of whom were black, were all acquitted later that year. Crime has been high in the city since those riots, but the mayor blames “systemic racism” as the “stem” of violence.
How did Mr. Billingsley meet LaPere? According to surveillance footage, he followed her home, though she didn’t seem to notice. After she entered her secure building, he motioned to her through the glass as though he had forgotten his keys. She let him in and rode the elevator up with him. Less than an hour later, he was leaving the building, wiping his hands.
At a vigil after her death, EcoMap employees wore shirts reading “equitable, accessible, ecosystems.” EcoMap co-founder Sherrod Davis said Miss LaPere saw a “new Baltimore, not one that was riddled with crime and destitution, but one that was a symbol for prosperity and innovation.” At the end of the vigil, her family and friends reportedly let out a “collective scream.”
This death didn’t just happen, nor will outpourings of grief prevent others. In one of her final posts, LaPere wondered why community involvement plummeted along with old-fashioned values such as patriotism and religion. The loss of community was a consistent theme of hers.
All of them make sense but the plummet in community involvement is shocking to me
And yet at the same time people are lamenting a “loss of community” https://t.co/nLVw3yejL1
— Pava LaPere (@PavaLapere) May 7, 2023
Perhaps with her death, some may understand that such time-tested principles weren’t bigotry but common sense. The reason we don’t have “community” is because diversity kills it. People need public safety to live and work together, and that means stopping crime, not coddling criminals in the name of “equity.” Liberalism dynamites the foundations of the society she was trying to build.
Miss LaPere claimed sociology showed her how the world works.
I learned more in my 1 year as a sociology major than my prior 3 years in computer science
Sociology teaches you how the world works. Maybe they just regret knowing that. https://t.co/fbXxLMyaXi
— Pava LaPere (@PavaLapere) November 15, 2022
Sociology gave her a false vision of the world. El Salvador’s Nayib Bukele could solve Baltimore’s crime problem more effectively than fantasies about equity. Following the advice from John Derbyshire’s “The Talk” would have helped her more than a college education, because she wouldn’t have fallen for a black man faking distress. Miss LaPere would still be alive if she had only been a “racist.”
She has paid the price for decades of our rulers’ deluded thinking about race, as well as her own. Few will learn anything. Her story is over, but the unnecessary tragedy of Baltimore will continue.
Rest in peace.