Submitted to the AFRO by Dr. Ken Morgan
Recently, the local daily paper reported that the Downtown Partnership “will place unarmed security guards at selected downtown intersections next week to stop squeegee window washers’. Many are teenage black youth. Most of the complaining commuters are white suburbanites. These complaining commuters view these young black people as dangerous thugs. The DP plans to pay $3000 a week for these unarmed guards.
So what were Mayor Pugh’s comments? She said, “It’s against the law to impede traffic whether you’re a squeegee window-washer, a beggar, selling newspapers.” Mayor Pugh is supposed to raise $1.7 million in private money to give Baltimore teen squeegee car window-washer, toiling teens part-time jobs.
The window-washers are poor, black working class teenagers, homeless human beings-not beggars, and newspapers sellers. They all have one glaring commonality. Most if not all belong to the almost 25% or more of Charm city’ poverty population. Many of these racially stereotyped youngsters face a dismal future of being pushed out of the public school system and in the queue for the school to prison pipeline.
These alleged miscreants are all over Baltimore, trying to make a legitimate buck. It remains likely that they will continue whether downtown or uptown or anywhere around town.
So, who are you kidding about unarmed guards? The unarmed Downtown Partnership security guards can and will call the cops at the drop of a pin. The police official in the downtown district says arresting youth for blocking traffic or taking away their squeegees are a last resort. Given the past and present history of the Baltimore Police department, it remains hard to believe.
The Downtown Partnership needs to hire and pay youth and the homeless $15 an hour for their chores. The Partnership boasts of paying their regular street staff this wage. Do not spend $3000 a week on unarmed security guards.
Here are some other solutions for starters. Provide $15 an hour minimum wage public service jobs for every adult not employed. They can help repair and replace the crumbling infrastructure. Provide adequate funds for schools. Build more low-cost housing, both for purchase and rental on demand. Make the corporations pay their fair share of taxes. Eliminate subsidies for big-time developers. Stop paying the police for overtime.
Dr. Ken Morgan is a former Urban Studies asst. professor at Coppin State University, who coordinated the Urban Studies program.
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