BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith took to social media Wednesday to defend the controversial “squeegee kids” that are a common sight at some intersections in the city.
Smith wrote “the kids are trying to make an honest QUICK dollar” and said those who are complaining about them need to step up and help them.
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“Can it be annoying? Yes! Are they as dangerous as y’all make them seem? No!,” he tweeted. “Instead of [complaining] about it. Ask what can you do with your job/business that can help. We need more awareness around jobs and programs that can help them see beyond the day.”
Can it be annoying? Yes! Are they as dangerous as y’all make them seem? No! Instead of complaing about it. Ask what can you do with your job/buisness that can help. We need more awareness around jobs and programs that can help them see beyond the day.
— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) February 19, 2020
City leaders have debated what to do to get the kids off the streets. Last year, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young announced the $1.2 million Squeegee Alternative Plan designed to help the kids stay in school and find other employment. The mayor also created a children’s cabinet to focus on issues facing city youth, including squeegee kids.
Police officers who come across the kids also hand out packets with information about other job opportunities.
Despite the efforts, problems remain. Late last month, video surfaced that appeared to show a driver being assaulted by squeegee kids downtown. In a separate incident, a woman said a squeegee kid sprayed her in the face after she told him not to clean her windows.
Last week, a police officer was allegedly bitten and another was elbowed in the eye during a call for a squeegee complaint in south Baltimore.
As of early February, police received nearly 300 squeegee kid-related complaints so far this year.
The volume of complaints led Gov. Larry Hogan to suggest the squeegee kids were deterring tourism downtown, which city leaders pushed back against.