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Sports Auto Racing

Grand Prix weekend put developers' interests ahead of residents

On Saturday, I crossed the Baltimore Grand Prix track via the skywalk between the Pratt Street Pavilion and the Gallery. Racecars were speeding around the track, so I lingered for a moment to see what my tax dollars had bought. But only for a moment, because then three police officers ordered me to move along.

Now, I know that it wasn't for crowd control or a safety issue — there were only three other civilians on the bridge besides me, and I have seen far more people congregate on that bridge for a parade on Pratt Street without risking a collapse.

I could only conclude that they were there on behalf of the race organizers, who presumably believe that in addition to buying the right to use the people's roads, they had also bought the right to observe the race from any public place.

I thought there must not have been any homicides to investigate or teenage drug dealers to catch if three of Baltimore's finest could afford to spend their time hassling taxpayers for standing on public property.

Imagine my disappointment, then, when I opened Monday's Sun to learn that, in fact, there were no fewer than six shootings in the city during the Grand Prix, one of them fatal.

Turns out it was just another case of the city administration putting the interests of developers ahead of those of its own citizens. I can't help but wonder whether we might have done more to convince people to visit and spend money in Baltimore if we had focused the city's limited police resources on reducing neighborhood crime rather than let the Grand Prix organizers use them as taxpayer-funded bouncers on deserted downtown skywalks.

Elizabeth Petro, Baltimore

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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