A coalition of 37 Baltimore businesses has threatened to withhold tax and permit payments as the city descends into “lawlessness,” according to local reports.
“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 group of Fells Point businesses wrote in a letter addressed to Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, Council President Nick Mosby, Councilman Zeke Cohen, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison and the city’s state attorney, Marilyn Mosby.
“For months, we have been holding on by a thread, waiting for daybreak, worrying whether we will make it or if we will be the next business to shutter our doors for good … We have reached our breaking point. Our elected leaders have closed their eyes and ears and turned their backs on our community for long enough. We are fed up and frustrated, and we now realize that nothing will change unless we demand action,” the group continued.
“So, to compel our leaders to do their job and to stand up for neighborhoods all across Baltimore, the undersigned parties are prepared to withhold our city taxes and minor privilege and permit fees and place those funds into an escrow account, which we will not release until and unless basic and essential municipal services are restored.”
The coalition is asking the city to enforce traffic and parking laws through tickets and towing, stop illegal alcohol and drug sales and pick up trash. They also demand that police respond to cases of prostitution, public urination and defection and the consumption of alcohol and drugs on the streets. (RELATED: Kim Klacik Shows The Daily Caller How Baltimore Became One Of The Most Dangerous Cities In America)
Mayor Scott responded to the letter in a statement, noting that he understands “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.”
The frustrations came to a head after a violent weekend left business owners reeling. During a seven-hour span between June 6 and 7, police responded to nearly 20 calls in the Fells Point area, with approximately six calls related to aggravated assault with a handgun, according to Fox 45.
Eric Mathias, owner of The Horse You Came In On Saloon, published a lengthy Facebook post on June 7 alerting customers that “for the first time, The Horse will have armed security” moving forward and will continue to do so “until the sh*t completely collapses and we lose or we get a somewhat safe Fell’s Point again.”
Mathias also urged customers “NOT” to visit until the situation improved. “It’s worse than you think and I more than understand why people have and are moving, stopped and are no longer visiting, and frankly, you should NOT come down here until it’s reasonably safe to do so,” he wrote.
The city has increased police presence in the area following the surge in violence, according to WBAL TV. However, business owners reportedly said that increased police presence is not the solution. They noted that the increase in officers was overwhelming and that customers were having trouble patronizing the businesses due to road closures, according to the report.
As part of the heavy police presence, road closures were implemented over the weekend between 3:00 p.m. and 6 a.m., along with DUI checkpoints and surveillance, according to WBAL TV.
“Are we building a fort? Is that what we are going to be called Fort Fells Point soon? Because that’s what’s going to end up having to be,” business owner Nancy Longo reportedly said.