The Inner Harbor area of Baltimore City is being terrorized by "black youth mobs" and city and state officials are "covering it up," according to one Baltimore County Republican.
"This has been going on for years," said Del. Pat McDonough, a Middle River Republican who also represents part of Harford County.
"I have a responsibility as an elected official to bring this to the public's attention," the delegate said, adding that "roving mobs of black youth are responsible for the attacks."
A spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake declined to comment directly to McDonough's remarks.
"Del. McDonough's sad and racially-charged publicity stunt is not deserving of a response and Mayor Rawlings-Blake is proud of the men and women of the Baltimore Police Department for reducing crime to historic lows. As an elected official, Del. McDonough should show more respect for the work our police officers do with the community to make Baltimore safer," spokesman Ryan O'Doherty wrote in an email.
McDonough said he and his wife were recently driving through the Inner Harbor area when they witnessed "a mob of nearly 100 people "battling" in the middle of the street. It was a pretty frightening sight."
McDonough cited recent violent episodes in the city including shootings during New Years Eve celebrations and beating of a man on St. Patrick's Day as evidence that the city is a dangerous place to visit.
"People, retired police officers, have been calling me telling me this has been going on for a long time and the city and the mayor are covering it up," McDonough said, adding that he believes Gov. Martin O'Malley should send in Maryland State Police to assist in patrolling the Inner Harbor area.
He also said the area should be declared a "no travel zone."
"The State Department does it all the time for people traveling to the Middle East and other areas," McDonough said. "People need to be alerted that there's a danger."
Rawlings-Blake's administration objected to McDonough's assertion that it was covering up crime downtown. In January the mayor, Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Dr. Andres Alonso and Baltimore police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III held a press conference heralding the city's achievement in reducing juvenile violence.
According to a news release, last year the city reduced youth violence by 37 percent over the previous two years, while reducing juvenile arrests by 60 percent in the same time period.
McDonough's use of the term "black youth mob" in interviews and a press release emailed Wednesday has drawn attention because of racial overtones. The delegate was questioned about his word choice Thursday morning on WBAL 1090 AM.
"If this was a bunch of skinheads doing this the reports would say it's a bunch of white skinheads," McDonough said in an interview with Patch. "I could have said Chinese youth but that would have been inaccurate. That would be dishonest."
"People are preoccupied with race," McDonough said. "They are not preoccupied with public safety."
McDonough said there have been other incidents involving mobs of white youth in the Fells Point and Canton areas of the city.
When asked why he didn't put out a press release decrying youth violence in general, McDonough said: "Those incidents were a rarity."
McDonough criticized Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as being more interested in promoting the Baltimore Grand Prix than dealing with the issue of youth violence.
"If she would dedicate that energy and resources to youth outreach, community centers and better intelligence tools for police, I think the city would be a lot safer," McDonough said.
O'Malley Friday downplayed McDonough's comments and said the city is safer.
"Baltimore City has reduced crime by a greater percentage than any major city in America in the last 10 years," O'Malley said. "Pat should come and visit some time."