A group of nearly 40 restaurants and shops in Baltimore’s Fells Point neighborhood are threatening to withhold city tax payments and other fees unless they get more policing and better services, WJZ-TV reported.
What are the details?
The 37 business owners signed a pointed letter addressed to Mayor Brandon Scott, Councilman Zeke Cohen, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, and Police Commissioner Michael Harrison following a weekend of violence and mayhem that included three men getting shot Saturday night, the station said.
“What is happening in our front yard — the chaos and lawlessness that escalated this weekend into another night of tragic, unspeakable gun violence — has been going on for far too long,” the letter said, according to WJZ.
The businesses plan to place the withheld funds in an escrow account until the city meets four demands, the station reported:
Pick up the trash
Enforce traffic and parking laws through tickets and towing
Stop illegal open-air alcohol and drug sales
Empower police to responsibly do their jobs
The letter added that minor crimes that police “ignore” are what leads to incidents like the weekend shooting, WJZ noted.
‘Prostitution, public urination and defecation’
“When it comes to prostitution, public urination and defecation, and the illegal sale and consumption of alcohol and illicit drugs on the streets, we know these crimes are not as serious as the carjackings, shootings, and homicides that have become routine,” the letter also said, according to the station. “But, as this past weekend proved, a culture of lawlessness rarely remains confined to petty offenses and invariably leads to the kinds of violence and tragedy we witnessed late Saturday night.”
The letter ended by saying that Fells Point is “one of the crown jewels of Baltimore,” and that the small problems could lead to the neighborhood’s demise, WJZ noted.
“Frankly, it’s pathetic that we have to ask for these basics,” the letter also said, according to the station. “But this is where we are.”
“Mayor Scott shares the business owners’ frustrations over the violence across the city, and has ordered the Baltimore Police Department, Department of Public Works, and Department of Transportation to work collaboratively to address it,” a statement from the Mayor’s Office reads, WJZ reported. “The Mayor is working tirelessly to hold people committing violence accountable, remove violent offenders from our streets, and identify illegal firearm traffickers so Baltimore residents can enjoy a night out without fear of endangerment.”
After the program had been in place temporarily due to COVID-19, Mosby claimed violent crime had declined 20%, and property crime had declined 36%: “Clearly, the data suggest there is no public safety value in prosecuting low-level offenses.”
Here’s another video report about the violence over the weekend — and at whom the business owners are pointing their fingers: