Maryland Governor Says Young Black Men Offering To Clean Drivers' Windshields Are Deterring Tourism: 'They're Tired Of Being Harassed'
The young men said they are just the "good guys in blue."
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan claims local Black young men working alongside the streets of Baltimore to clean drivers' windshields are deterring people from coming into the city, according to local news station WJZ.
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During a community meeting on Monday, Hogan expressed his concerns about the squeegee crew who set up on prominent intersections offering windshield cleaning services to drivers.
The topic of the crew came up during the governor's discussion centered around crime reduction in Baltimore being his top priority, WBALTV reports.
"It was more of a discussion about the really violent crime and the shootings and the murders, but squeegee kids was an issue," Gov. Hogan said on Monday. “I thought it was driving people— keeping people from coming into the city because they’re tired of being harassed on the streets.”
Despite the governor's ambiguous concerns, squeegee members say it's a profitable job that compliments their full-time careers.
“I don’t know who keeps telling people we don’t got jobs. Because I work at Amazon. Sparrows Point. I got me a 9 to 5 and I still squeegee,” a squeegee worker said.
The governor confirmed that the job is high-paying and is a lucrative form of receiving additional income.
“One of the ministers had a program where they were trying to employ some of the squeegee kids, but the problem is some of these squeegee kids make $40 or $50 an hour harassing people on the streets, and it’s hard to replace that with a job,” Gov. Hogan said.
Squeegee members are aware of the push from some lawmakers to get them off the streets, however, they say they are simply just the "good guys in blue."
“I’m just trying to work and take care of my family. That’s it,” a squeegee worker said.
Police have addressed Hogan's statement that the crew deters tourism.
“The enforcement of that we have been informed is unconstitutional,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said. “To do that takes many officers away from the assignment thereby not providing any public safety for far more serious things.”
Harrison told lawmakers that there are no ongoing plans to crack down on the squeegee crew other than for acts of violence. He also said that of the number of incidents that are reported, very few are violent.
According to WJZ, in the past two weeks police have responded to reports of assault by members of the squeegee crew. In one incident, a video recorded a man punching a person while holding a squeegee. In a separate case, a woman was sprayed with an unknown substance when she declined to have her windshield washed.