For two weeks, the media cycle has been fixated on Fells Point and coverage of the chaos and violence taking place in our neighborhood after businesses took an aggressive stand to demand a more effective response from city officials (”Baltimore City Council questions whether Fells Point response pulled police from other areas of the city,” June 17). That demand and the attention it gained has received criticism from some who cite a disparity in attention compared to the many neighborhoods across Baltimore whose residents have been screaming for help for decades. Others have chosen to politicize this crisis as an opportunity to reduce the focus to bashing of elected officials they don’t like and don’t agree with. The competing narratives are becoming noise, distracting from the issues at hand and threatening to derail any hope of progress. The facts on the other hand are clear.
It is a fact that these issues aren’t unique to Fells Point, and many others deserve the same things we are asking for in Fells Point. The majority of us in Fells understand that. But at the same time, it is a fact that just because it isn’t unique to Fells Point doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve an effective response. It is a fact that the response to date has not been adequate in Fells or anywhere in the city. It is a fact that it is the job of the administration to figure out how to ensure that all neighborhoods get the resources they need and public safety they deserve in an equitable way. It is a fact that it doesn’t matter if we like or agree with elected officials. We still have to put aside our differences and work with them collaboratively to solve these challenges because they are the ones with the power to do something. Reducing dialogue to merely a condemnation of our leaders is not going to create a forum for constructive engagement, and certainly not solutions. That is futile and counterproductive. It is a fact that we can demand better, expect an urgent response and still engage respectfully and work collaboratively. Communities and government have to work together.
Recently, representatives of Fells Point businesses, residents and city leadership met. Following that meeting, the business leaders released the following statement:
“As challenges to public safety in Fells Point and more broadly across Baltimore continue to dominate the news cycle, we wish to clarify and affirm our position.
While a small few have chosen to use this crisis as an opportunity for personal attacks on our city leaders or self-serving political grandstanding, this is not representative of our neighborhood at large. The vast majority of us recognize that the problems facing Fells Point are not unique to us, that everyone who is being harmed by violence across Baltimore deserves support, and that every neighborhood deserves adequate resources and city services.
We appreciate the Mayor [Brandon Scott] and our Councilman [Zeke Cohen] for their commitment to equity, while also being willing to engage with us in a collaborative and constructive conversation around fair, reasonable, and effective solutions to the crisis of violence that Fells Point has been experiencing. Councilman Cohen helped organize such a meeting today with members of the Mayor’s staff, business representatives, and residents. While no single meeting will solve these challenges, we believe we have established a healthy foundation for continued dialogue and collective problem solving. We appreciate the councilman’s continued advocacy and believe that Mayor Scott takes this as seriously as he does.
This work must be done while also embracing our neighbors across the city and using the attention this moment is getting to shine a light on the challenges that many neighborhoods are facing. Fells Point is united and stands in solidarity with our broader Baltimore community. We will not allow divisive narratives to prevail.”
Sean Brescia, Baltimore
The writer is a partner in The Wharf Rat.
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