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Baltimore will ban squeegeeing in 6 areas, provide payments for apprenticeships to get squeegee workers off streets

Baltimore will ban squeegeeing in 6 areas, provide payments for apprenticeships to get squeegee work
Baltimore will ban squeegeeing in 6 areas, provide payments for apprenticeships to get squeegee work 02:11

Baltimore City unveiled a new plan Thursday to deal with squeegee workers, and it bans squeegeeing in six areas across the city starting early next year. 

As WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren reports, they include President Street at I-83 and Conway Street near the Inner Harbor where police say motorist Timothy Reynolds was shot and killed by a then 14-year-old squeegee worker after he left his car and confronted a group with a bat in July.

Other 'no-squeegee zones' include Sinclair Lane and Moravia Road in Northeast Baltimore, Wabash and Northern Parkway, part of Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard and Mount Royal at North Avenue, where federal judge James Bredar called police after he says squeegee workers harassed him and spit on his car last month. 

The plan would take effect on January 10th. "Everybody—drivers, folks who squeegee—all will be held accountable," Mayor Brandon Scott told Hellgren at a news conference. "If some folks may choose to continue to do so, they do so at their own risk."

The Squeegee Collaborative developed the plan, bringing together more than 100 people including representatives of the mayor's office,  squeegee workers and business leaders. 

It also calls for squeegee youth to develop a code of conduct and "self-regulate" enforcement of it. 

You can read the details of the plan here. 

The city's law department said Thursday they have now determined it is constitutional to enforce laws preventing the practice, but they wanted to work out a strategy that called for "narrow and targeted" enforcement.

"…Where we're getting the 311 calls, where we're getting the assaults, where we're getting actual squeegee workers who are hit in accidents. They're being hit by cars. We can let that data drive our enforcement strategy," said Deputy City Solicitor Ebony Thompson. 

The plan would provide intensive outreach to help young people who squeegee and includes payments to squeegee workers who enroll in training programs if they promise not to squeegee again. 

"This is not guaranteed income. I know there are some folks who've been trying to say that. I don't think those folks understand what guaranteed income is," Mayor Scott said. 

He said the program is "more like an apprenticeship. In order to get that money you have to be participating in other things and moving in other ways. You just don't get it regardless."

Police are working out enforcement details but said they would include two initial warnings followed by citations if someone squeegees in one of the six enforcement areas. 

The mayor also said drivers who engage with squeegee workers could also be held accountable.

Governor Hogan slammed the plan to pay some squeegee workers. 

"That sounds completely absurd and ridiculous to me. We need crackdowns not handouts. We need to get the people who are violating the law off the streets, and that's what we've been saying for several years now," Hogan said. "I'm not so sure what took so long, the many months for the Squeegee Collaborative to come up with any of this stuff that they came up with like self-monitoring and they're going to have designated areas and they're going to pay them. Hey, look, I'm not the mayor of Baltimore but it's certainly not the way I'd go about handling it if I was."

Victoria Thompson, 18, said she dropped out of high school in East Baltimore and turned to squeegeeing. She provided input into the Squeegee Collaborative's plan and called for compassion as it was released. 

"I'm here to tell you that we are not animals. We are human," Thompson said. "We need your help. We squeegee because we don't have the money for the basic things like clothing and food. We want a better life, and we just want the guidance and need the guidance to do something positive."  

The plan is expected to cost $5 million. Part of that cost may be paid through private donations. 

Mayor Scott said incoming Baltimore City State's Attorney Ivan Bates supports the recommendations. 

In a statement, Bates noted there must be both enforcement and "positive resources" for squeegee workers.

 "I believe the mayor's plan does both and is a step in the right direction towards addressing a long-standing challenge facing our city," Bates wrote.

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