Across Baltimore, nearly 40 businesses have signed a letter that threatens to withhold their tax payments from the city, at least until the city invests significantly in improved policing alongside other services.
The letter notes that some issues, including “public urination and defecation,” as well as “prostitution” and the “illegal sale” of narcotics and alcohol in the streets, are generally not considered as serious as violent crimes, which include “homicides,” “shootings,” and “carjackings.”
However, the letter also observes that the previous weekend illustrated a clear “culture of lawlessness” that generally does not remain “confined to petty offenses” and will invariably lead to various forms of “tragedy” and “violence,” as witnessed on Saturday.
The group of 37 businesses had the letter sent to various individuals, including Marilyn Mosby, the State’s Attorney; Zeke Cohen, a Councilman; and Brandon Scott, the Baltimore Mayor. This letter was initiated after an incredibly violent weekend that resulted in the shootings of three men in Fells Point neighborhood, which is near where the group of businesses is located.
The letter noted that what is occurring across the “front yard” in Baltimore includes constant “chaos,” as well as “lawlessness,” which predictably escalated into “another night of tragic, unspeakable gun violence.” Moreover, this violence “has been going on for far too long,” the letter added.
Baltimore is on the list of cities that elected to reduce the budget provided to law enforcement in response to the massive “Defund Police” movement that has pervaded the entire nation since the passing of George Floyd last year. Baltimore opted to remove $22M in total from its policing budget.
However, a surge in crime quickly resulted, which prompted the city to reverse course. Currently, Baltimore plans to increase the police budget by $28M in 2022.
Nonetheless, the 37 businesses are calling for officials to put funds that were supposed to be distributed to the city in an escrow account, at least until the officials are able to meet their demands. These demands include the following: enforcing traffic and parking laws via ticketing and towing; ceasing illicit drug and alcohol sales; picking up trash strewn across the streets, and empowering the police department in the city to enforce the law responsible.
Moreover, the letter also points out that Fells Point was “one of the crown jewels of Baltimore,” and it issued a stark warning regarding the future of Fells Point: If the city does not start caring for this area, then it will further deteriorate.
The letter also stated that “it’s pathetic” that “where we are now” is for businesses to request “these basics” from Baltimore.