By Rick Ritter

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Six months after the Freddie Gray riots, and some businesses are still feeling the effects with numbers worse than ever. Others have been forced to close.

Rick Ritter has more on the lingering impact that some fear may never improve.

Some businesses are down anywhere from 20-30%, a drop-off that doesn’t seem to be getting any better—and they worry it could get even worse.

There are empty seats and a lack of foot traffic downtown.

“I’ve been through business ups and downs for 25 years but never have experienced anything like this,” said Camden Pub owner Pat Liberto.

For Liberto, it’s been nothing less than a struggle.

“We’re probably down 20% since last year, at least, and you can’t get that back,” he said.

Six months after the Freddie Gray riots that turned Charm City into turmoil, the impact is still being felt.

“It never really rebounded and I think because there’s such a black cloud over the top of the city,” he said.

An impact that extends beyond Liberto’s spot. Lenny’s Deli at the Harborplace closed its doors. A week-long curfew in April followed by a slow summer made it far from easy to recover.

With the officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray scheduled to go on trial over the next few months, some worry about what could unfold—more violent protests could steer remaining customers away.

“The scary part is what’s going to happen; the trials are coming up,” he said.

Mike Evitts with Baltimore’s Downtown Partnership admits there’s no denying the numbers but says other areas are thriving.

“Downtown investment is really high. We still have people moving into the city,” Evitts said.

And that’s up to the people who surround the city–not tourists—to help put Charm City back on the map.

“These are places that support men and women who work across the city and region and they’re important, worth trying to save and worth trying to help out,” Evitts said.

Last year at this time, the Orioles were in the midst of a post-season run. This year, they’re obviously out of the playoffs but with that and the lingering effects, it’s been a complete 180 for some of these businesses.

The Downtown Partnership added that some of the numbers are a reflection of the crime spike in Baltimore as the city closes in on 280 homicides.

Rick Ritter

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