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Baltimore has been dealing with an ongoing problem involving so-called “squeegee kids” for years now. Despite the sporadic media attention the issue receives and public outcry, the problem appears to be getting worse rather than better.
We’re talking, of course, about the gangs of kids (many of whom are not kids at all, but young adults including some suspected gang members) who congregate at street corners near stoplights with squeegees and buckets. While motorists are trapped there waiting for the light to change, they run out and begin washing windshields, or at least soaping them up. They then demand money from the driver for this “service.” If the driver doesn’t pay up they are frequently threatened, harassed or even assaulted, with some cars being vandalized.
Things almost took a critical turn toward violence this week when one woman drew her legally owned and carried firearm from her purse during one of these attacks, leading to a shot being fired into the seat of her vehicle. Nobody wound up being shot. (CBS Baltimore)
A woman was driving down Martin Luther King Boulevard when she came to the intersection at Washington Boulevard. While she was sitting at the light, she said a group of squeegee kids surrounded her vehicle, spraying fluid all over her windshield and demanding money.She said the group started striking her car with squeegees causing damages, saying they were being aggressive.
The woman said she couldn’t drive off without running them over, so she reached into her purse in the passenger seat and pulled out her registered firearm and sat it on her lap, telling the group to back away from her car.
One of the squeegee kids then reached into her passenger side window and grabbed her right wrist, which was holding the firearm.
At that point in the encounter is when the gun went off. The woman wasn’t just being verbally harassed. At least one of the vandals was reaching into the vehicle and grabbing her, leading to a struggle with the firearm. The fact that the passenger seat was shot and not one of the “squeegee kids” was happenstance.
The driver called the police herself and waited at the scene for them to arrive. She offered up her firearm for inspection along with her valid permits. She did everything right and thankfully got away without serious injury or additional damage to the vehicle because the assailants all ran away after the handgun discharged.
The fact that this didn’t end in a gunshot injury or death does nothing to alleviate the problem that led up to this. We’ve covered numerous stories of people being injured or having their vehicles damaged in these assaults. The response from the city has been to send larger numbers of police out to these corners, including members of the SWAT team at one point.
But they aren’t clearing the corners. They’re mostly just “observing” to see if things turn violent. And they can’t cover every corner in town. Further, every officer being stationed to watch the squeegee kids isn’t out there preventing or solving other, more serious crimes.
To be clear, the fault here doesn’t rest on the shoulders of the Baltimore PD. They’re following orders. But City Hall continues to fail to take crime seriously and crack down on those causing the vast majority of problems. Baltimore won’t pass tougher gun crime laws. They won’t rein in these shakedown artists. If you don’t enforce the laws, criminals will propagate, and that’s just what we’re seeing on the streets of Charm City today.
Put the surveillance planes back up in the air. Install more cameras and use facial recognition. Do what you need to do to make the streets safe for normal civilian activity, education and commerce. If you do, Baltimore can make a comeback. If you stick with the failed policies of the past, it will remain a gang-ridden wasteland.