News & Politics

Baltimore Mayor Tries to Address City's Violence by Telling Businesses When to Close

Image Via Shutterstock, a view of downtown Baltimore at night.

The city of Baltimore has a real problem. It’s been suffering from a wave of violence for some time now. Residents of the city thought it was over. After all, the murder rate for the first three months of this year dropped significantly, undoubtedly a good sign.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.

This month, the city has seen at least 29 murders as the violence surged yet again. This led Mayor Catherine E. Pugh to take to the streets to visit some local businesses. One of the exchanges recorded by the Baltimore Sun was a little concerning, though.

You see, Pugh stood inside of an area convenience store and asked what time the store closed. When the owner responded that they closed at 11:30, that wasn’t good enough for Pugh.

“Isn’t that late?” the mayor reportedly responded. “That’s a little late. It keeps the crowds around here. Nine o’clock is nice. We need you-all to close at 9 o’clock at night.”

Maybe it’s just me, but that kind of gives off a mafia-like “Nice business you’ve got here. It would be a shame if anything happened to it” kind of vibe.

For what it’s worth, the owner didn’t indicate he intended to comply with the mayor’s…request.

However, I can’t help but be shocked at the audacity of Pugh’s comment. Besides what  sounded like a thinly veiled threat, there’s the idea that she knows more about the owners’ businesses than they do. If a store is open until 11:30 at night, there’s a reason for that. If they’re making money left and right at 10:00, closing at 9:00 would be a disastrous business decision. What little that could be saved in overhead won’t make up for the lost revenue.

But another business owner indicates that Pugh’s walk through the streets of Baltimore didn’t give her the full picture.

William Boston owns Will B Better Bodies gym in that same area–I can only assume he’s supposed to close at 9:00 as well–and he said that if the mayor hadn’t had a police escort she would have seen a different scene.

“You’d see everything going on,” Boston told the Sun. “It’s an open-air drug market.”

Boston wasn’t complaining, mind you. No, he wanted it to happen every morning.

However, here’s a thought for Pugh to consider. Instead of telling law-abiding business owners when they should close, maybe she should consider doing something about the “open-air drug market” on her city’s streets. These kinds of illegal activities are closely tied to gang activity, and police do attribute the recent surge in violence to feuding gangs. Arrest them for drugs and maybe lock up the violent gang members in the process?

Just a thought. It’s certainly better than telling businesses when they should close.