Business owners in Baltimore's Fells Point are getting fed up with the rising crime and local officials' inability to do anything to stop it. Last week, a group of 37 businesses sent a letter to Baltimore's mayor, the city council president, the police commissioner, and the state's attorney, threatening to withhold their tax payments unless local leaders do something to address the issue.
The letter was sent just a few days after three people were shot in the popular historic and entertainment district.
"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," they wrote.
The letter details how criminals act in broad daylight, conducting illegal drug and alcohol sales, and openly engaging in prostitution. It also describes how unruly crowds party late into the night, clogging the streets and leaving behind trash.
"These are not concealed, clandestine operations by sophisticated gangs with suppliers and lookouts. These are brazen individuals who conduct their business in plain sight because they know Baltimore City will do nothing to prevent or punish them," the letter says. "This hurts the family fabric and tourist value of the community."
City officials have vowed to crack down on the problems and will send more officers and public works officials to try to the area.
"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," spokesman Cal Harris said in a statement.