As a resident of the Inner Harbor, I'm shocked by the details of what happened downtown duringSt. Patrick's Day weekend ("The St. Patrick's Day brawl," May 16). And I was also dismayed by how quickly the brawl apparently materialized. However, I'm grateful Maryland's Public Information Act made it possible for your reporter to unravel details as they were happening in real time. I'm just sorry city officials downplayed this violence as it leads to citizen complacency until something serious occurs.

I was unaware of the mayhem taking place as my residence is a distance away, but the incident makes it clear everyone should be proactive when they witness hundreds massing anywhere and spoiling for trouble. The police did a fine job, that's for sure — but containing a problem is not the same as preventing it. The communication between the police on the street, in the helicopter and at the command center demonstrated the size and intent of this unruly crowd.

Also, Baltimore police need to anticipate the Star Spangled 200 and tall ship Sailabration that will take place mid-June. Next month, Baltimore will host events in honor of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, and it would be tragic if a similar "flash mob" descended on the Inner Harbor.

I pay huge property taxes to live in downtown Baltimore and don't want my neighborhood turned into an urban "war zone." The Inner Harbor community is no place for tourist stomping, stabbing or hotel guest harassment. What happened on St. Patrick's Day demonstrates how people living and working here must be on the alert and not afraid to call 911 if they think trouble is brewing!

Rosalind Ellis Heid, Baltimore