Baltimore’s Inner Harbor used to be one of those places that you just didn’t go. It was dark, dirty and dangerous. Then the city undertook a major effort to clean it up. The Inner Harbor became Baltimore’s glittering tourist hub, with a terrific science center, an amazing aquarium, the world’s first ESPN Zone, easy and safe access via water taxi to nearby Ft. McHenry, restaurants and shops. Then the occupiers showed up and turned it back into a crime zone. Occupy Baltimore saw a stabbing, alleged rapes, and the occupiers’ response was to discourage anyone from reporting sexual assault to the police.
The stabbing, by the way, wasn’t due to some deep dispute over how best to take on The Man. One occupier stabbed another over a cat.
Well, there’s hope now that the Inner Harbor can return to its pre-occupation uses. Police liberated it this morning.
Baltimore City police in full riot gear moved into McKeldin Square about 3:30 a.m. to remove the protesters, who had been camped out at the site since Oct. 4. City police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told WBAL-AM the scene was “extremely peaceful, very, very civil.”
Demonstrators said about 30 people were camped out in the plaza at the time. A spokesman for the city’s mayor, Ryan O’Doherty, said 23 people were taken to a city shelter and that no arrests were made. Ryan said “the city made it very clear that they were allowed to protest all day and into the night, but that camping is prohibited.”
Protester Mike Gibb, a 21-year-old from Bel Air who participated in a march with Occupy Wall Street protesters from New York to Washington, said the eviction from the square marks “Phase 2” for the movement. Gibb said demonstrators will begin squatting in vacant housing all over the city.
Well, there are certainly plenty of those, and many haven’t been lived in in years. Baltimore’s population is shrinking. The occupiers aren’t exactly combat-hardened veterans, though, and many of those empty houses and row houses sit in some of Baltimore’s sketchier neighborhoods. Good luck, squatters.