After a deadly altercation between a man wielding a baseball bat and a group of squeegee workers, Baltimore business leaders convened with city youth Thursday to discuss solutions to the persistent tension surrounding their street-corner presence, the Baltimore Sun reports. The summit, which was closed to the public, was part of what Mayor Brandon Scott promised will be a “difficult” and ongoing conversation. Leaders, who included members of the business and nonprofit communities, as well as elected officials, are expected to meet again with youth over the next several weeks. “I will not do what was done to me. We will not kick the can down the road,” Scott said, noting that squeegee workers have been a contentious topic in Baltimore since the 1980s. “It will require us having difficult conversations — extremely difficult conversations — with a diverse set of voices who all care about the city.”
Divisiveness over the young men and women who clean windshields at intersections for money has come to a head since last week, when a man was killed in a deadly confrontation downtown. Timothy Reynolds of Baltimore got out of his car and swung a bat at several squeegee workers. One of the youths pulled a gun in response, killing Reynolds. A week later, officers arrested a 15-year-old boy. The teen, who police did not name because he is a minor, was charged as an adult with first-degree murder. The clash, which happened along the Inner Harbor, drew calls for the city to do more about a concern that many, particularly those who work downtown, had been raising for years. It also prompted a vocal defense of the youths, who many argue are working for their survival, supporting themselves and families financially amid limited options. Scott convened the summit, dubbed the Squeegee Collaborative, to develop a community-based response and expand on opportunities available to youth.