Report on “Late-Evening Chaos” in Federal Hill, Additional Deployments Requested

| August 18, 2022 | 0 Comments

Email from Councilman Eric T. Costello to the Mayor’s Office and Baltimore Police Department:

Gentleman, the chaos in Federal Hill during the weekend late-evenings has hit new levels of lawlessness, similar to what Fells Point has experienced over the past two years. We are on the verge of losing this neighborhood and I am intent on ensuring that does not happen.

This past week, I requested the Board of Liquor License Commissioners (BLLC) coordinate with the MD Alcohol Tobacco Commission and conduct an assessment of this situation. The results of that investigation are attached and are consistent with the above (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hruFzm_0DdrnZqv0KiQvluci7JSJm6JZ/view?fbclid=IwAR2ITRs2jsvnt_9_B9dtQf-3tzrYPf9IETrTDwdYuEk648XrLe4_8Wz5MQ4). IN addition, attached is a letter signed by three community associations and two business associations outlining repeated incidents this summer and requests for additional law enforcement, which have gone unanswered to date (https://drive.google.com/file/d/12aSkG2U-6cN-RoMJRHtyPqRhQ8rM7aZR/view?fbclid=IwAR0prHd5zm6LVRzIieV9fm-gy-YaQjD3quIjyjdTHuQnTsUV7pZzyJiZPlw). As you are aware, local media covered the latest incident which can only be described as too all-out brawls occurring simultaneously: https://twitter.com/AntMob7/status/1558334332778995712?s=20&t=tpt-rg75dWVntdxpYe_Uuw&fbclid=IwAR1lGkFybi1tag3shY-H3JFk5YS8s4n45SIJpaZnbddqE1v-3LVYeiELCcM

I am requesting a deployment plan for this weekend to be provided by COB, Thursday Aug 18. In addition as part of that plan, I am requesting the following resources be deployed to gain control of this intolerable situation through high-visibility and proactive enforcement:

  1. Mobile Metro Unit
  2. Mounted Unite (Horses and Officers)
  3. SWAT
  4. Additional Patrol Overtime

Finally, I reiterate my previous request that sworn parking enforcement and law enforcement prevent parking violations, double parking, and obstruction of the free flow of traffic. Unattended vehicles in the roadway should be cited and a tow requested. Individuals returning to their vehicle prior to the two truck arriving should be subjected to a traffic stop and be issued citations for obstructing the free flow of traffic and other applicable violations. Should have questions, Please don’t hesitate to reach out to out. Thanks, EC

State of Maryland Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City report:

BLLC Investigative Report

To: Chief John Chrissomallis
From: Inspector Kenyatta Washington
Subject: Fed Hill Observations
Date: 8/12/22
On 8/12/22 myself and Inspector Tudhope were in the Fed Hill area from approximately 9:30pm- 1:00am making visual observations of the establishments, patrons, and activities

From the 1200 blk of S Charles to the 900 blk of south Charles is heavy foot traffic outside of the bars mostly were juveniles due to the tight security. It’s an overwhelming amount of people walking with open bottles of liquor and six packs of beer freely drinking on the sidewalks and in the street. The north side of market appears to be the busy side. The outside tables are being taken over by non-patrons sitting at them selling and using narcotics this was observed by the BLLC. After speaking with several staff members of the various establishments they stated they are hesitant to try and remove the said people in fear of retaliation. Light St is another area where the outside tables are being taken over by non patrons. The next concern is the cruising of the motorcycles and Sling Shot vehicles. With no traffic enforcement these vehicles stop on S Charles and on Light St and hold casual conversations with people on the sidewalk while doing this they are impeding the free flow of traffic. Based on our observations if there is no plan of action in this area things are going to go from bad to worse.

On August 13, 2022 I assigned Inspector Robinson and Inspector Tudhope to the Federal Hill area to conduct surveillance of establishments, patrons and overall activities. Below are the findings from that day.

10pm. Heavy Dirt bike activity/racing on light street up to key highway. Light foot traffic between 900 through 1200 block of Charles St. A lot of open containers. Cars double parking

11 pm steady foot traffic. Younger crowd. Mild dirt bike activity. Small crowd in front of Starbucks. Heavy open container. Long line in front of Wayward. Small line I front of banditos. Long line to get into watershed from cross St. heavy foot traffic on cross St. cars double parking

12am Heavy foot traffic. Food truck blocking intersection of Charles and cross. Heavy open container. Young crowd. Long lines in front of Wayward. Long line to get into watershed from Cross St. Small line in front of banditos

1am Foot traffic still heavy. Open container still persisting. Long line in front of Wayward. Continuous double parking. BPD Radioed about an assault that took place at 10 E Cross St.

145-245am Large crowds lingering in front of Wayward Banditos and the Charles. Pedestrians blocking traffic. Pedestrians using the outdoor tables to linger around. Smaller crowns lingering on the 900 block of S Charles and the 900 block of light. Very heavy open container activity. Hookah lounges still have lines2 patrol cars drove through area that were witnessed.

SUMMARY
Gentlemen, this was the report from this weekend. Along with the video from the multiple fights on Friday night. From my experience these are the early stages that we faced in Fells Point. Typically, after an incident airs on social media as the one from Friday the enforcement and presence of authority the following couple weekends are critical. With the assaults, juveniles and open containers, enforcement by State and Local agencies needs to occur immediately to establish control of the area. This increase in enforcement is the only way to decrease the likelihood of escalated incidents of violence. If I can be of any assistance feel free to reach out.

Federal Hill Main Street Letter to Councilman Eric Costello:

August 16, 2022

Dear Councilman Costello,

As you are aware, in recent weeks lawlessness and disorder has reached alarming levels in the Federal Hill business district in the late-night hours from 9 PM – 2 AM, on Thursdays through Sundays. We appreciate the actions you have taken to date to bring these issues to the attention of, and work with BPD, DOT Parking Enforcement, the Liquor Board, and the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission. Unfortunately, more work by these agencies and others is immediately required to get the current situation under control before things devolve to the condition that Fells Point experienced the previous two summers.

Community members have witnessed multiple violations of laws and ordinances during this period including illegal stopping, illegal parking, open containers, vehicle noise violations, illegal alcohol sales and the use of BBQ grills on public sidewalks. We have witnessed these events happening when there is a complete absence of greatly needed police presence, but more disturbingly they have also been witnessed in clear view of police presence. These acts have been centered in two main hotspots in the business district: 1) the intersection of S Charles St and both Unit blocks of E Cross St, and the 1000-1100 blocks of S Charles St on both sides of Cross Street Market; and 2) the 900-1100 blocks of Light St. concentrated in front of Zeeba Lounge, Rosa’s, and Arabian Nights. In addition, there are consistent and gross violations of parking in handicapped reserved spaces, blocking ADA pedestrian ramps, blocking fire hydrants, and parking in no stopping zones in the aforementioned areas as well as on the Unit block of E Hamburg St at the corner of Light St.

Although each of these illegal acts are concerning in their own right, when they occur at the same time in a small geographic footprint it creates an atmosphere of lawlessness. This has unfortunately led to more concerning illegal acts such as illegal dice games and the illegal discharge of firearms as occurred at the intersection of Light St and Warren Ave in the spring
2022. Examples below:
● 8/13 – Fighting in the street on Charles St. in front of Mothers
● 7/25 – Illegal stopping on Charles St. and general disorder
● 4/16 – Shooting at the intersection of Light St. and Warren Ave.

As such, we are requesting the following actions be taken immediately:
1. Ensure enforcement of illegal consumption of alcohol within Zeeba Lounge and Arabian Nights, as they do not have liquor licenses or BYOB privileges.
2. Provide clarification on legal hours of operation for Zeeba Lounge and Arabian Nights and legally limit these hours if possible.
3. Strictly enforce parking regulations and traffic laws on the aforementioned streets. Specifically, we believe that two police officers engaged in high viability traffic enforcement geared towards deterring motorists from “double parking” in the roadway is an ideal solution. We recommend that Southern District redefine the deployment strategy to include special attention to the following traffic violations from the Maryland Traffic Citation Handbook (https://mdcourts.gov/sites/default/files/court-forms/dccr090public.pdf):

a. Causing standing vehicle to obstruct free vehicle passage of roadway (21 1001 b- $60 citation)
b. Leaving unattended vehicle without stopping engine, locking ignition, removing key and setting a brake (21 1101 a – $70 citation).

We look forward forward to hearing back from your office and look forward to working with you, our State Delegation, and our municipal and state agencies to bring relief to our community.

Sincerely,

Garrett Schiche – Board President – Federal Hill Main Street
Hank Shofer – Board President – Federal Hill Business Association
Beth Whitmer – Board President – Federal Hill Neighborhood Association
Sam Cogen – Board President – South Baltimore Neighborhood Association
Meg Murray – Board President – Federal Hill South Neighborhood Association
Brad O’Brien – President – Southern District Police Community Relations Council

CC: Senate President Bill Ferguson
Delegate Luke Clippinger
Delegate Brooke Lierman
Delegate Robbyn Lewis

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Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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