It would be nice if CVS rebuilt a the store in Baltimore that was trashed by rioters earlier this month. It would be a fine gesture on the part of a large corporation that it was not holding the entire neighborhood responsible for the behavior of miscreants.
On the other hand, we should not blame them if they decide not to do so. If anything has become clear in the last few weeks, it is that the depiction of the city of Baltimore in the long-running HBO series the wire may be dark, but it seems Pollyannish in comparison to the reality.
This is not about the inexcusable behavior of the rioters. It is not about the hard, penetrating questions that need to be asked about the Baltimore cops and systemic brutality of practices like “rough rides.” It is not about the dysfunction that seems to permeate city government.
It is about all of those things put together.
I am not suggesting that CVS sit back and await the gentrification of Sandtown before it ventures back in. What it should do, if it really wants to make a difference, is say “we want to go back into Sandtown bigger than ever. But we are not going to do it until this city starts taking care of the problems that the residents themselves have been complaining about for years.”
Building a pharmacy in the heart of a blighted neighborhood is, possibly, a good thing. Building a pharmacy while pursuing a coherent approach to removing the blight is an unquestionable public good.