BALTIMORE — Mayor Brandon Scott on Thursday convened a meeting of business owners, city leaders and squeegee workers, hoping to find solutions for the window washers.
Scott said squeegee workers have been an issue for decades, but what is new this time is that all the stakeholders are coming to the table.
“This is about Baltimore –Baltimore failing to address this issue, from a government standpoint, from a business standpoint, community standpoint, everybody has failed to address this issue,” he said.
City Councilman Kristerfer Burnett, who was in the meeting, said about 50 people, including some squeegee workers, were present and attendees discussed transitioning window washers into jobs and how to keep both young people and motorists safe.
Donte Johnson, general manager of Hotel Revival in Mount Vernon, was also inside the room.
“There was a decent amount of time just spent getting to know who was in the room,” he said.
Meetings will be held weekly going forward.
Scott said stakeholders will hold a conversation with squeegee workers “about why they were out there, what happens when they go out there, what factors led to them being out there.”
The mayor’s press conference came on the same day Baltimore police announced a 15-year-old had been charged in the death of Timothy Reynolds, the 48-year-old man killed last week in a confrontation with squeegee workers near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
Police initially said Reynolds swung a baseball bat at the squeegee workers but would not answer questions Thursday regarding Reynolds’ exact actions.
And while some city council members have said these workers have to go, those washing windows have said it’s hard to walk away from the much-needed cash.
The mayor said moving them off the corners isn’t the answer.
“Moving Black people because they are there is what got Baltimore in the consent decree,” he said.
Johnson wrote an Op-Ed in the Baltimore Banner entitled: ‘Squeegee kids’ are Baltimore. They are our young people. And we have failed them.
In it, he described how Hotel Revival has partnered with the city’s Mayor’s Office of African American Male Engagement to create employment opportunities for squeegee kids.
In May, WJZ spoke to Tavon Chavious, who squeegeed for five years in Baltimore. But now, through a partnership with the Mayor’s office Office of American American Male Engagement, he’s a house attendant at Hotel Revival. Chavious says he loves his job.
Johnson, the hotel’s general manager, said Thursday’s meeting and subsequent meetings should result in “an education for both the community and the young people, and ideally some behavioral changes on both sides.”
Johnson described the summit as encouraging.
“This was the beginning of a conversation that I think is going to be long and complicated and difficult, and hopefully uncomfortable but productive,” he said.
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