Mayor's Office views, plus Open Phones on the city's squeegee kids
In 1985, in response to complaints about squeegeeing, the Baltimore City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting selling goods or services on the street by a vote of 18-1. The bill was initially opposed by the seven African American members of the council at that time, but they were eventually convinced that the bill wasn’t a racist attempt to fine and jail young Black men. Concerns at the time included the bill might also prohibit members of the Nation of Islam from selling pies, or other vendors from selling newspapers.
That same year, and remember this is almost 40 years ago, the city’s Neighborhood Progress Administration created a pilot program to train youths, aged 9 to 13, about courtesy, proper clothing, grooming, correct use of squeegee equipment and safety measures.
A steady stream of programs and initiatives followed in subsequent Mayoral administrations, the most recent of which is a 90 day “Squeegee Action Plan” introduced by the Scott administration last November.
Police say they have identified a 15 year old “person of interest” in the death of Timothy Reynolds, a 48-year-old mechanical engineer from Hampden, who was killed on Thursday during an altercation with a group of squeegee people.
The debate about squeegeeing continues, beginning with what to call the mostly boys and men who populate several corners throughout the city. Are they squeegee kids? Some aren’t kids, but many are. Are they squeegee workers? Many would suggest that they are at best, panhandling and at worst, extorting money from intimidated drivers. Some have taken to calling them squeegee thugs, which perhaps makes them feel better somehow. Some of the people who squeegee have, in fact, robbed drivers and vandalized cars. Most cars get through squeegee corners without incident, and many drivers give these young men money. The practice of squeegeeing continues because it is profitable for most of the people doing it.
As we have done on several other occasions here on Midday, let’s spend the hour today talking about what squeegeeing means for the young people who do it, for the quality of life in our city, and for the capacity of city government to address the challenges of poverty and employment.
So, let us know what you think…our number is 410.662.8780. You can email us at [email protected], or Tweet us: @MiddayWYPR.
Joining Tom today are two city officials who are on the front lines of Baltimore’s efforts to create alternative opportunities for the people who are squeegeeing.
Faith Leach is the Deputy Mayor of Equity, Health and Human Services. In that role, she oversees Recreation and Parks, Library Services, Homeless Services, immigrant affairs, the City’s COVID-19 public health response, and the Mayor’s Office of African American Male Engagement…
Dr. Andrey Bundley is an experienced educator who serves as the Director of the Mayor’s Office of African American Male Engagement…
They join us on Zoom.