BALTIMORE (WJZ)—There’s growing controversy in the debate over safety in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Now a Maryland lawmaker calls on the mayor to take action or resign.
Adam May has more on the fight surrounding the city’s most popular tourist destination.
This back and forth battle is getting pretty ugly, including charges of racism and a conditional call for a resignation.
State Del. Pat McDonough, from Baltimore and Harford County, says he and his wife were scared for their safety when a few weeks ago their car was surrounded by 100 people at stoplight near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
McDonough called that group a “young, black mob,” triggering controversy.
“You have to be accurate when you describe a crime scene. So, they were young, they were black and it was a mob,” McDonough said.
The phrase drew criticism from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
“It’s certainly sending the wrong message. You don’t think people are that out of touch in 2012,” she said.
And now there’s this rebuttal aimed at the mayor: “I’m calling on her to resign with that caveat that I’ll withdraw that request if she does something,” McDonough said.
“My problem with the mayor is she appears to be engaging in a cover up type policy,” McDonough said. “That the crime issue isn’t as bad as we think it is.”
A spokesman for the mayor says “Del. McDonough is now trying to distract attention away from his earlier racially charged comments and that he should show more respect and recognize the tremendous progress our police officers have made.”
So far this year, downtown crime is down 13 percent, with gun crimes down 36 percent and robberies down 17 percent.
But video of an attack against a tourist on St. Patrick’s Day made national headlines. And last week, police released dispatch records revealing another large disturbance.
Dispatch: “Crossing Lombard, probably 200 children going northbound. CitiWatch confirms that we have a large group of juveniles.”
The next big event downtown is Fourth of July. Last year saw several fights, the murder of a father visiting from Alabama, and a child hit by a stray bullet.
Police are adding patrols and cameras for the summer.
“What people have to know is that the Baltimore Police Department is prepared, and we know how to respond to this,” said Anthony Guglielmi, police spokesman.
McDonough has a show on a conservative radio program, and Mayor Rawlings-Blake accuses him of exploiting this issue in order to boost the ratings.
The mayor has no intention of resigning. She was not available for interview Tuesday because she’s in Las Vegas, trying to recruit new retailers to Baltimore.