‘We Own This City’: David Simon and ‘The Wire’ Veterans Return to Baltimore for an HBO Show About Police Corruption
The Wire creator David Simon is not done exploring corruption in Baltimore just yet.
A new report says that Simon and fellow The Wire veteran George Pelecanos are teaming up to make a new limited series for HBO called We Own This City, which is based on journalist Justin Fenton’s book of the same name. The show is set in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s murder in the custody of Baltimore police and features a stunning campaign of corruption by a sergeant who was tasked with drastically reducing the amount of guns and drugs on the city’s streets, only to pull off a series of crimes behind closed doors that enriched him and his partners.
Deadline reports that Simon and Pelecanos, who previously worked together on shows like The Wire, Treme, and The Deuce, are reuniting for We Own This City, which is described like this:
We Own the City is set in Baltimore 2015. Riots are erupting across the city as citizens demand justice for Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Black man who has died under suspicious circumstances while in police custody. Drug and violent crime are surging, and the city is reaching its highest murder count in more than two decades: 342 homicides in a single year, in a city of just 600,000 people. Facing pressure from the mayor’s office—as well as a federal investigation of the department over Gray’s death—Baltimore police commanders turn to a rank-and-file hero, Sergeant Wayne Jenkins, and his elite plainclothes unit, the Gun Trace Task Force, to help get guns and drugs off the street.
However, behind these new efforts, a criminal conspiracy of unprecedented scale was unfolding within the police department. Entrusted with fixing the city’s drug and gun crisis, Jenkins chose to exploit it instead. With other members of the empowered Gun Trace Task Force, Jenkins stole from Baltimore’s citizens—skimming from drug busts, pocketing thousands in cash found in private homes, and planting fake evidence to throw Internal Affairs off their scent. Their brazen crime spree would go unchecked for years. The result was countless wrongful convictions, the death of an innocent civilian, and the mysterious death of one cop who was shot in the head, killed just a day before he was scheduled to testify against the unit.
If you’ve never seen The Wire, by now I’m guessing you’re probably sick of hearing people recommend that you seek it out. But they say that for a reason: it really is one of the greatest television shows of all time, and Simon’s deep and wide-ranging approach to crime in the city of Baltimore remains incisive, sadly relevant, and unforgettable. Simon painted a grand portrait with that series, digging into the politics behind municipal decision-making and the greed and hubris of folks on both sides of the law who will do whatever it takes to attain and maintain power. He’s been interested in this subject matter for his entire career, first as a journalist and then as a television writer/producer, so it’s no surprise that he’s going back to this particular well for another series. This feels like a world-class athlete announcing that they’re returning to play for another season, and I can’t wait to see how this plays out.
Casting is reportedly underway now, and Pelecanos previously revealed that he and Simon “rounded up the old (writing) crew from The Wire” for this show, so we’re especially excited to see what that stellar team is able to produce all these years later.