BALTIMORE - The looting and street violence that roiled Baltimore this week shows why it is a big mistake to shut down the city's recreation centers, many residents say, fearing the closures make it more likely that young people get in trouble with the law.
The rampage by mostly youthful crowds on Monday, sparked by the death of a 25-year-old black man who was injured while in police custody, was a painful reminder that young people badly needed after-school programs and recreation centers, they said."In many areas of the city there are no viable recreational activities for young people. That's where we find ourselves at this point," said Douglas Miles, a Baptist bishop and a former co-chairman of Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, an advocacy group.
Since 2012, Baltimore has unloaded 14 of 55 centers in an overhaul of its recreation programs, a move forced in part by the city's strained finances and long-term decline of its population. Four were closed, and 10 were transferred to private organizations or to the school system.
Across the street from the shuttered Parkview Recreation Center and just blocks from where Gray was arrested on April 12, residents said the closure of the facility gave neighborhood youth few choices when school was out.
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