By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer,
The mother of Aaliyah Gonzalez was front and center on Sept. 13 for the second city council hearing on the Brooklyn Day mass shooting. She lifted up her daughter’s memory and the need to end violence in the streets of Baltimore.
“Aaliyah has been an A and B student her entire life. I’ve always gotten a report card that says congratulations, you’re on the honor roll. Aaliyah was so respectful,” said Krystal Gonzalez, mother of Aaliyah Gonzalez. “Aaliyah had a curfew her entire life until she turned 18 in April – she had a curfew at 11 p.m.”
Aaliyah Gonzalez was one of two people who were shot and killed around 12:30 a.m. on July 2 at the annual Brooklyn Day block party, which went largely unpatrolled this year.
Krystal Gonzalez went on to describe what happened when they found out about Aaliyah’s death. She even played a recording from that night where screams can be heard. Sniffling could be heard throughout the room as she spoke. Many city officials and attendees visibly held back tears.
The mother noted that the Baltimore Police Department’s (BPD) helicopter “Foxtrot,” which was sent to patrol the Brooklyn Homes area around 10:37 p.m., stated that everything looked “normal” instead of raising concern. By 10:37 p.m. there were approximately 700 people in attendance according to the After Action Report (AAR).
“What is your normal? I challenge you: what is your normal? Let them take each other out, is that your normal?” quipped Krystal Gonzalez, speaking to the inaction of the police officers that night.
Before her testimony, BPD, the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement and the Housing Authority of Baltimore City were set to present their portion of the AAR to the council, but due to the heart-wrenching testimony only BPD gave their report, followed by questions.
City Council President Nick Mosby was not satisfied with the recommendations from BPD and focused heavily on the equity analysis portion of the report along with several other city council members.
“The only thing that I will continue to push on BPD is to come up with real recommendations that go to the root of why this occurred,” said Mosby during the hearing. “
] wasn’t because we didn’t have enough people, the right command, the protocols or operational procedures in place to address the issue. It’s because we decided to do nothing. We allowed it to occur in Brooklyn and we would not allow it to occur in Fells Point or Canton.”
Councilwoman Odette Ramos (D-District 14) insinuated that “officer indifference,” as noted in the AAR, was intentional and asked for clarification on the word choice, which left out the issue of race.
“When we speak of racial indifference, we’re talking about people who simply don’t care, who are perhaps dispassionate. They show apathy because of a person’s race,” said Leslie Parker Blyther, director of the Equity Office of the Bureau of Compliance in the BPD, who selected the word “indifference.”
“After speaking to our Brooklyn residents, when they say ‘they don’t care’, this is the word that we use in our frame of work—‘indifference,” continued Blyther. “There were several comments that were made, which also show up in the report, that show microaggressions such as, ‘looks like they snuck Brooklyn Day in on us,’ ‘call the National Guard’ implying some type of military approach is needed at time in that particular community.”
Ramos pointed out that the racial makeup of the community is not noted in the report, though it was a factor of the “officer indifference” and poor community relations in the Brooklyn community.
“I did not see the recognition of the population, ethnicity and race in Brooklyn Homes. We’re just assuming all of this because we’re in Baltimore City,” said Ramos.
BPD announced that a fifth person has been arrested in connection with the shooting. A 15-year old juvenile male was arrested on Sept. 13 for allegedly firing a weapon at individuals in the 800 block of Gretna Court, where the incident occurred.
He was charged with 44 offenses including attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, reckless endangerment and loaded handgun on person. His name is being withheld due to his age.
The investigative hearing has not yet been rescheduled.