Baltimore recently instituted a “violence reduction initiative” amid a sharp increase in homicides, and this week, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh did a walk-through in some of the affected neighborhoods, doling out anti-violence advice of her own.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Pugh suggested that, to combat loitering and gang violence, local grocery stories might consider shutting their doors a little earlier.
“What time do you-all close?” the mayor reportedly asked one man at a local shop.
“11:30,” the man replied, according to the Sun.
“Isn’t that late?” the mayor said. “That’s a little late. It keeps the crowds around here. Nine o’clock is nice. We need you-all to close at 9 o’clock at night.”
Pugh went on to tell reporters that she and her team are “on top of” the drug- and gang-driven violence that is plaguing the city, making it one of the most dangerous places to live in the entire United States. Police have boarded up vacant housing and removed abandoned vehicles, and city officials are looking to improve marketing for city services they say will help lift people out of poverty.
But Pugh is really fixated on the corner markets.
“These stores on Pennsylvania Avenue and North Avenue need inspections,” the mayor told reporters. “Health Department, I’m going to expect you to get in there and inspect those places because some of those places need to be shut down.”
“How many mini markets do we need in one area?” she added. “How many carry-outs do we need in one area?”
Mini-market owners who spoke to the Sun said that crime was a problem for them, too, and that they didn’t consider themselves the reason homicides had spiked in the city. While the mayor was touring, other officials noted, police actually captured an armed man in the doorway of a local store.