BALTIMORE — Squeegee workers and their presence on Baltimore City corners have been long talked about, but Thursday’s murder arrest of a 15-year-old is rekindling the conversation.
“It’s not a lot of things in the neighborhood for them to do so they choose this route, so they don’t bother me, so I don’t have a problem with them,” said Anthony Thompson, a driver who passes by them everyday.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott is meeting with local stakeholders, business and community leaders and government officials over a four-to-six week series to discuss the City's strategy and response to the continuous issues involving the squeegee workers.
“While it is not a new problem, it will require some new and different strategies if we’re going to solve what has been a long standing challenge for us all,” Mayor Scott said in Thursday’s press conference at Coppin State.
Mayor Scott said addressing the issue would require an open conversation from the bottom up, involving community stake holders and squeegee workers themselves.
Some we’ve heard from already.
“We’re not trying to hurt nobody. that’s what I want them to know. We’re not trying to hurt nobody. We’re just trying to make an honest dollar and stay out the way,” a squeegee worker told WMAR2-News 2 Wednesday afternoon.
“That’s why they’re here, to have that conversation about why they were out there, what happens when they are out there, what factors led to them being out there,” Mayor Scott said.
Drivers who pass squeegee workers everyday weighed in.
“I don’t see a problem with it. As long as it’s not anything to stop them from getting in trouble the wrong way. So I wouldn’t see a problem with it,” Thompson said.
While several options are being explored by the Mayor's Administration, some like clearing the corners, although zero tolerance policies won’t be on the table.
“If you’ve never been, sat down on the curb and put in handcuffs in the rain, just because you are breathing and outside and Black, then you don’t know that life's experience and you should tread lightly on talking about that topic,” Mayor Scott said.
At the same time of the press conference, Baltimore Police Department and the city solicitor engaged with the Department of Justice regarding the city’s complex consent decree which also plays a role in shaping how police enforce laws surrounding squeegee workers and panhandling throughout the city.
“For years we have been given guidance about how to interpret that and how to enforce what to enforce when or when not to. Right now they’re working on guidance to give to the police department that I will in turn give out department,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison.
But as the city works on going forward, it highlights what hasn’t been done in the past.
“This is about Baltimore, Baltimore failing to address this issue, from a government standpoint, business standpoint, community stand point,” Mayor Scott said.
Coppin State University hosted the first meeting of a series of meeting that will be held for the next 4 to 6 weeks.