A flyer comparing Baltimore bus riders to apes and encouraging the cutting of what it called the “Ghetto Bus Line” to White Marsh Mall drew boycott threats online — and swift condemnation from mall officials.
“Inner City Youths Riot at White Marsh Mall,” the flyer says. “Stop the Ghetto Bus Line! Keep the Uneducated, Loud, Rude, Wild Animals in the City where they belong!”
Its appearance follows calls by two Baltimore County Council members for reductions in late-night service to the mall, after a recent fight in the parking lot.
MTA spokeswoman Veronica Battisti said Monday the agency was aware of the flyer, but did not have any comment on it.
The flyer, which includes a still frame from “The Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” circulated online Monday, but its origin is unclear. It drew a few pledges of boycotting the mall in Baltimore County by online commentors, who presumably thought the mall had posted it.
That couldn’t be further from the truth, said White Marsh Mall general manager Marty Lastner. He said he was appalled when it came to his attention Monday.
Lastner said he felt “absolute disgust someone could post such a thing.”
White Marsh Mall senior spokeswoman Lindsay Kahn said she was horrified at the assumption by some online that the mall would post a flyer degrading its own customers.
“We are disgusted — that’s the only word I can come to think of,” she said. “We have absolutely nothing to do with the creation of that flyer. We are as outraged as everybody else.”
When the mall opened in the early 1980s, its location near the northeastern city-county border, along Interstate 95, was considered one of its attractions, said Lastner. he believes it still is.
“We always will invite a large community to come to our property from all over,” he said. “We’re positioned in a way that invites a lot of people from all over the place. We’re inclusive in that way.”
The mall would object to any bus service reductions that make it harder for customers to patronize its stores, Lastner said. County Executive Don Mohler said he objected to any such move, and two Baltimore city councilmen have also blasted the proposal.
Lastner said he has noticed no difference in the volume of bus riders coming to the mall since last year’s implementation of new routes under the Maryland Transit Administration’s BaltimoreLink system overhaul.
If anything, Lastner said, mall officials want more bus service to reduce complaints of riders having to wait in large crowds for buses to arrive.
The bus service is important to riders such as Singleton Newman, who lives in West Baltimore and has been working at an IKEA call center in White Marsh for about five years. She said some of her co-workers frequently ride the bus home at night from the Franklin Square Drive and Campbell Boulevard stop; Newman gets out of work at 9 p.m., but many of her coworkers work until midnight. She worries about their ability to get home on the bus.
"I do believe that there are some kids that are hanging out there [at the bus stop] that are causing problems, but [the County Council members' proposal would] impact the people that take the public transportation,” she said. "It's not just about me and my immediate coworkers at this job. There are other people here who [the proposal] would negatively affect.
“What about the college kid working at the movie theater? What about the waitress at the restaurant at The Avenue?" Newman asked. "If anything, [the MTA] needs to extend the service for the taxpayers."