Back in October, I cautioned the municipal government of Baltimore against treating the “squeegee kids” like a social justice program instead of a criminal enterprise. For those not familiar, these are the young people who increasingly line the street intersections, holding buckets and squeegees and running up to cars stopped at traffic lights. They “offer” to wash the car’s windshield in exchange for some money. Drivers who defer have frequently had their cars vandalized or, in extreme cases, been assaulted.
In response, the city government has been trying to find other work for them, which is certainly an admirable effort. But what they’re not doing is instructing the cops to remove these little vandals from the intersections and protect the drivers. Now it’s become obvious that this isn’t some sort of urban employment program and the situation is getting worse rather than better. (CBS Baltimore)
Baltimore City Police are investigating after a man and his wife say they were assaulted by several of Baltimore’s so called “squeegee kids.”
Jon Coles said he and his wife were with their children stopped at a red light at Light and Lombard streets on Friday evening when they were approached by a group of the “squeegee kids.”
Coles said he asked them to move past his car, when his vehicle was hit by a squeegee. He then exited his vehicle at which point he was attacked by several of the squeegee kids, who he said hit him in the face and in the back of the head and threw their squeegee supplies.
The Coles family aren’t the only ones by a long shot. Reports of these assaults have been coming in for months. Thus far the Mayor has mouthed some comforting statements about how Baltimore “won’t tolerate” violence, but that’s not doing much to get these kids off the corners. The victim eventually got the chance to speak with Mayor Pugh in person but he wasn’t very satisfied with the response.
“She told me she had to get most of the squeegee boys off the streets,” Jon said. “And those who are out there are actually men. They’re assaulting people, going after people, terrorizing the area of Baltimore.”
In November, the Downtown Partnership deployed staffers to monitor these interactions downtown…
The Coles had enough of the talk and want the mayor to walk the walk.
“She’s gotta stick to her word and take care of it,” Jon said. “because her and Hogan have to get together and take care of it.”
The city has been treating this as if the perpetrators are a group of unruly children. It took one of the victims to finally go to the press and point out that the majority of the “squeegee kids” are not children at all. They are young men and some of them are clearly already involved in gang activity.
This squeegee activity is not a “job” because nobody requested these services. And it’s not a social experiment. This is extortion under threat of violence, plain and simple. If City Hall won’t direct the cops to take care of it and protect the people driving on their streets, they are once again falling down on the job. If there is some employment program available that can earn some of these young men some money in a legitimate fashion, the cops should be sending them to join that program. If they don’t want to go, they should be sending them to jail or juvenile court, depending on their age.