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Shots ring out despite Baltimore’s attempted crime crackdown after businesses threatened to stop paying taxes

Baltimore police told local media outlet WBAL Radio on Sunday that they’re investigating an overnight “discharging,” not shooting, in Fells Point. The discharging, as it turns out, came from a gun or guns, and the bullets damaged several vehicles. A man sitting in one of the vehicles suffered a laceration to the head, perhaps when the discharging broke a window in his car.

Police have heightened sensitivity over crime in Fells Point – an historic waterfront area that’s home to many bars and restaurants – because dozens of business owners in the neighborhood have threatened to stop paying their local taxes and permit fees, citing unfettered “chaos and lawlessness.” The disgruntled taxpayers wrote a letter to city officials last week, saying they had reached their “breaking point.”

“Our elected leaders have closed their eyes and ears and turned their backs on our community for long enough,” the business owners said.

City leaders responded to the Fells Point threat by closing down streets around the neighborhood, setting up drunk-driving checkpoints and assigning more officers to patrol the area this weekend. A mobile police command center also was dispatched. 

Baltimore has been plagued for years by violent crime, one of the nation’s highest homicide rates – it was No. 2 in the latest ranking, behind only St. Louis – and allegations of police brutality. During a 2015 riot over the death of a black man in police custody, then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake infamously ordered police to give protesters not only an opportunity to exercise their free-speech rights, but also let “those who wish to destroy space to do that as well.”

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