A group of Baltimore business owners is threatening to withhold taxes from the city government if it doesn’t do more to improve basic services — including crime prevention, trash collection and stopping illegal drug and alcohol sales — according to WBAL.
The letter comes as the city and state refuse to prosecute certain crimes in the city like fighting, public urination, drug possession and public drunkenness, as part of an effort to defund and reform police.
Thirty-seven business leaders from the Fells Point neighborhood signed a letter that was sent to Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, Council President Nick Mosby, Councilman Zeke Cohen, Maryland State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and Commissioner Michael Harrison.
“What is happening in our front yard,” says the letter, “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 letter then cites gun violence, the pandemic, business shutdowns and mask mandates as reasons why businesses and residents have suffered so much in a community that they love.
“We have reached our breaking point,” the letter continues. “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 business leaders have threatened to withhold taxes and fees from the city, and say instead they will deposit the money into an escrow account, if the city’s leadership doesn’t act to improve the conditions in the community.
This is Fells Point, run by @Zeke_Cohen. The same Ezekiel that quote tweeted me weeks ago saying his district was in great shape. Go to his Facebook page, you will find his constituents cursing him out in the comment section. This will be Zeke’s last term. pic.twitter.com/UwIlwIpCMJ
— Kimberly Klacik (@kimKBaltimore) June 8, 2021
Fells Point is a waterfront community in Baltimore, a popular weekend hangout, that is recognized as a National Historic District with nearly 47 shops and restaurants.
Last weekend the district saw three shootings despite increased police presence.
Critics of the city say that criminals come to the neighborhood and sell liquor from coolers without a license, including sales to underage drinkers, who then get into fights.
“These are not concealed, clandestine operations by sophisticated gangs with suppliers and lookouts,” says the Fells Point business leaders in the letter. “These are brazen individuals who conduct their business in plain sight because they know Baltimore City will do nothing to prevent or punish them.”