Democratic President of the Maryland Senate, Bill Ferguson, proposed an emergency bill to close bars and adult clubs on 'The Block' in downtown Baltimore by 10 p.m. 'The Block' refers to businesses located on the 400 block of East Baltimore Street.
The bill, first introduced on Jan. 12, encompasses all businesses bound by East Fayette Street to the north, Water Street to the south, Holliday and Commerce Streets to the west, and Gay Street to the east. If the bill is passed any business with a Class A, Class BD7 liquor license, or an adult entertainment license will have to close by 10 p.m.
Business owners on 'The Block' are calling for the termination of the proposal saying that if enacted it would lead to a total shut down of their businesses since most of their business happens between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.
As the bill states, this "emergency measure, is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public health or safety" of Baltimore's central business district.
'The Block' is known to be an area of downtown Baltimore that once was famous for its burlesque houses and now contains several adult clubs, shops, and entertainment stores.
This bill is a joint effort that includes the Baltimore Police Department (BPD), which has its headquarters adjacent to 'The Block,' who stated that there were over 800 calls for service to 'The Block' and surrounding areas in 2021 according to CBS Baltimore. These calls included eight shootings with 11 victims, 15 robberies, 17 aggravated assaults and one suspicious death.
“Violence within and resulting from The Block in Baltimore City’s central business district has drastically increased in recent months despite a robust and consistent deployment by the Baltimore City Police Department,” Baltimore Police Commissioner, Michael Harrison, told CBS Baltimore.
Workers from 'The Block' told WBAL TV Baltimore that they have done all they can to curb violence in the area by asking the police for help and hiring private security.
There has been a consistent uptick in violence in Baltimore for the last couple of years. According to the BPD the city is already outpacing its homicide and non-fatal shooting numbers compared to this same time last year. As of Jan. 19, there have been 16 homicides and 34 non-fatal shootings since the new year.
The last time a curfew was established for Baltimore businesses was back in 2015 when rioters torched buildings and looted stores over the death of a black man who was fatally injured in police custody.