Baltimore City Power Rankings 6/18/14

1. Loose Steer The steer that busted out of a West Baltimore slaughterhouse last week and sauntered down the median of North Avenue for two miles before the Baltimore Police Department shot and killed it got more media attention than most cattle will ever know. And given the questionable practices at some slaughterhouses, it's possible that the firing squad was a more humane death than it would have gotten otherwise. We salute you, wandering steer of West Baltimore, for your last run of glory.2. Baltimore Twitter In the minutes and hours after word of the wandering steer spread over the internets, Baltimore's social media mavens kicked into respectable gear, first sorting out the difference between a cow, a bull, and a steer—we're still a little hazy, frankly—then generating memes like "Cow Ripken" and photoshopped pictures of the steer posing with the 12 O'Clock Boys. Well done.3. OK Natural It's never really a good thing when there's a killing in front of your business. But in this case, the steer shooting occurred just outside of OK Natural, one of the most vegetarian-friendly markets in town. The incident is bound to create a few more vegetarians and even some meat-eaters might be moved to pick up a tofu burger when they pass by the site and are reminded of the carnage.4. Ruppersberger and Sons The Pennsylvania Avenue slaughterhouse, in operation since 1966 and, until recently, the only one active in Baltimore City, actually let two steers wander off on Friday morning—the other one couldn't make it over the fence and is probably somebody's flank steak by now. Management had no comment, though a blood-covered worker appeared on TV to detail the steer's escape route.5. BPD Officers say the steer was becoming "increasingly aggressive" when they shot it, but multiple witnesses say he looked bewildered and confused in his final moments. Witness Ellie Beziat said she was 15 feet from the animal when an officer leaned across the passenger side of a moving cruiser and fired the fatal shots, near about 10 pedestrians. BPD said it couldn't use the tranquilizer it has on stock because it "was having an adverse reaction on animals"—as if shooting it in the head doesn't. Too bad, because the story could have had a happier ending and the West Baltimore steer could be posing for pictures with the mayor today.(illustrations by Alex Fine) UPDATE: The story has been updated to refer to OK Natural as a market instead of a restaurant and to clarify the observations of Ellie Beziat.

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