Maryland Del. Pat McDonough says he will not rescind his request for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s resignation or his comments about crime and African-American youth in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
The veteran politician has said if the mayor cannot contain flash mob activity downtown and come up with a better strategy to further reduce violent crime in the city, this should be her first and last elected term in office.
“I do have a plan and I'm serious about getting things done,” said McDonough, who represents the Baltimore and Harford County constituents of District 7 in the Maryland House of Delegates.
“We really have to work on finding solutions, jobs, outreach mentors, and any kind of program that works in the city with young people. I think the way to do that is to have a Solutions Summit- leaders, stakeholders, and people that care, coming together.”
McDonough has outlined a 14-point program on how to engage youth, an initiative he says would have long-term effects on reducing incidents of violence.
McDonough’s strategy would involve a Maryland Youth Advocacy Fund, established by “private special tax deductible contributions,” dole out scholarships, and encourage collaborations with the faith community. And while McDonough is no doubt taking his initiatives seriously, some have brushed him off as a yet another bigot in politics.
Last month, McDonough wrote to Gov. O’Malley asking him to declare the Inner Harbor a “no travel zone” until Maryland State police could be sent to secure the area and help local officials “prevent the consistent and dangerous attacks upon citizens by roving mobs of black youth.”
McDonough claims that the statement, still posted to his personal webpage, is an “accurate and honest” account of what he concluded was a “gang fight” on a weeknight between Calvert and Light Streets. Running a red light in fear of having his car damaged by the brawl, McDonough said he and his wife witnessed about 30 young people having it out in the street, with almost 70 others gathered around in a frenzy.
"I described the crime scene. And when you describe a crime scene you have to be complete. They were young people, they were Black, and they were committing crime. I feel no need to apologize- I didn't attack all Black youth in Baltimore City or black people in general.”
Some Baltimoreans milling around the Inner Harbor say McDonough is exaggerating the flash mob problem in Baltimore, even though they are aware video seen around the nation of a drunken St. Patrick’s Day tourist knocked out, robbed, and left naked downtown by several members of a crowd.
"People are threatened because they see a mass amount of teenagers and they're pretty much unpredictable- but that doesn't mean you should assume they are going to be a problem because you see a lot of them in one area, " said Brandon Rayne, who chooses to walk through the Inner Harbor to get to work each day in Fells Point. The 20-year-old says he has never seen nor fretted about a flash mob, but with pools and other outlets for youth losing funding, a spike in them would be no surprise.
“They're just gatherings. You’re closing down recreation centers, - so they really have nowhere else to go. You don’t want them sitting around in the house, doing nothing. You want them to use their youth. You want them to exercise and be out.”
Business owners renting booth spaces outside of the Pavilion also couldn’t confirm any reports of violent flash mobs- but according to McDonough, this is typical of trying to find witnesses to outbreaks of violence in the city.
Though he refused to release any contact information, McDonough says that he has received over 3,000 emails, letters, and phone calls from supporters of every color, but most importantly- Black leaders and every day members of the African American community. Missing from that list is Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who has pointed to McDonough’s actions in Annapolis as a gauge on the delegate's real interest in lowering crime.
“Del. McDonough should debate himself and his Republican colleagues who supported deep cuts to the Police Department and cuts to gun prosecutions as part of the state doomsday budget,” said Ryan O’Doherty, spokesman for the Office of the Mayor.
On the last day of the regular session, lawmakers agreed to a budget with no revenue bill, or any real way to afford all of the provisions contained within the fiscal plan for the next year. This would have set in motion automatic cuts to education and police departments that would have gone into effect July 1 if a special session had not been called where Democrats and Republicans to agree on whom to raise taxes and where to pinch pennies to close a $500 million deficit.
“If they had their way, BPD would be forced to cancel academy classes of new police officers,” said O’Doherty. “Crime is down to historic lows in Baltimore because of the smart investments that the city and the state have made in public safety.”