BISHOP DOUGLAS MILES of Koinonia Baptist Church, in Baltimore, used to be embarrassed to be a Johns Hopkins alumnus. A girl once stopped talking to him when she found out where he studied. Other residents recall being told by their elders to run past Johns Hopkins in case they were kidnapped by the research hospital for experiments. The university did not help by reneging on promises in the 1950s and 1960s to build new housing for the city. Hundreds of mostly black residents (Baltimore is 63% black) were displaced when the university hospital expanded. The new development was reserved for university staff and students, and then fenced off so that locals could no longer walk on the streets where they once lived. The university became an island and, until fairly recently, its students were advised not to go into certain neighbourhoods.
While Johns Hopkins has thrived, Baltimore has not. Between 2003 and 2014 the city received $2.8 billion in federal aid and another $2.2 billion in state assistance, yet a quarter of the population still lives in poverty. Nearly a third of high-school pupils fail to graduate on time. On August 10th the Department of Justice (DOJ) found that the city’s police department engaged in unconstitutional practices, including disproportionate rates of stops, frisks and arrests of black Baltimoreans, and used excessive force against minors and the mentally ill. One black man in his mid-50s was stopped 30 times in less than four years on suspicion of loitering. The DOJ found that people were publicly strip-searched during traffic stops and that police retaliated when civilians complained.