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State lawmakers, businesses on "The Block" make progress in curfew standoff

The Block owners, employees hold protest
Posted at 12:26 PM, Feb 18, 2022

BALTIMORE — Maryland State lawmakers and business owners on "The Block" downtown appear to be making headway in a long standoff over operating hours in the city's red light district.

Lawmakers want to impose a 10pm curfew on the 15 strip clubs and bars that sit along the 400 block of E. Baltimore Street.

They claim more and more crime has taken place in "The Block" over the years, despite being feet away from Baltimore Police Headquarters and the old Central District Police Station.

In 2021 alone, officials say police responded to 800 calls including 11 shootings around "The Block."

RELATED: Law proposes shutting down "The Block" in Baltimore City by 10 each night

But the businesses pushed back on that notion, saying they're being unfairly treated and targeted.

“You have eight other clubs all over Baltimore. Why is it just us?” one worker asked last month. “You have violence at the casino, but you don’t hear that.”

On Friday, Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson and Delegates from the state's 46th legislative district issued a joint statement on a potential compromise.

If agreed to, businesses on "The Block" could maintain normal business hours.

Under the proposal, businesses on "The Block," not the City would be responsible for funding police deployment during peak hours.

The businesses would also be pushed to increase use of cameras in the area and to share that with law enforcement.

MORE: Baltimore's "Block" pushes back on proposed curfew

They would also have to put together a security plan approved by the Baltimore City Board of Liquor License Commissioners in consultation with the Baltimore Police Department.

With that said, a spokesman for Ferguson said lawmakers still plan to proceed with Senate Bill 222 during this year's General Assembly that would impose the curfew.

Businesses however could still sidestep that curfew if it were to pass, as long as they comply with the agreement put forth on Friday.