In case you were not paying attention to the Baltimore area internet in the past few days, it was initially reported on Monday by Sun reporter Justin Fenton that during a pub crawl along Fort Avenue on Saturday (an overlapping pub crawl not associated with the one plugged a few days prior), an altercation broke out which eventually resulted in one man being stabbed in the back by another, the details of which unfolded during the day in the form of edits on the original post. The nature of the report and the individuals involved – for whatever reason – sparked what essentially amounts to a race war in the comments section within a few hours; truly some of the most vitriolic commentary I’ve seen in relation to Baltimore neighborhoods and their opinions of one another in a very long time (this line of commentary continues on Sam Sessa’s Midnight Sun blog here). I recommend reading these as a case study on how truly screwed up we are as a community, especially given the fact that someone’s life was nearly lost in the incident.
Last night the South Baltimore Neighborhood Association (SBNA) held a meeting to discuss Saturday night’s stabbing which stemmed from a pub crawl along Fort Avenue, and the sometimes problematic nature of pub crawls in general. SBNA member Tom Bullock (police and community relations committee) led the discussion, expressing his concern for the disruptive nature of pub crawls and that something like this could happen, noting “We cannot and will not have a regular somewhat unorganized display of public drunkenness in our streets. We have to be able to do this together or else it’s simply just not going to work.”
“Even the little league parade in Locust Point needs a permit. … [Pub Crawls] have absolutely no need to even let the police know. So we’re going to try to work on the state level to get that changed because unfortunately liquor is a state issue, not a city issue. ”
He went on to state that he would be in works with various city and state officials, notably 10th district councilman Ed Reisinger and state delegate Brian McHale (who were in attendance as well), in an effort to make changes to the law which would require a permit for those who wish to organize and participate in a bar crawl. Additionally, he stressed the importance of cooperation between crawl organizers, businesses, police and community in an effort to prevent dangerous situations in the future.
Ed Reisinger gave a few words to the crowd as well, pointing out the fact that pub crawls are banned in Rhode Island as a result of the 2004 death of a Connecticut college student. “I don’t want that to happen here in my district or in the city of Baltimore,” he said. He went on to reiterate the importance of being a liquor license holder and a business owner, as it relates to the fact that when someone is visibly intoxicated, they shouldn’t be served any more alcohol.
Reisinger, along with delegate McHale and various residents/business owners also noted that requiring a permit for a pub crawl would be difficult, as they often times can be organized on the fly without any prior notice to anyone at all. And even given the requirement, may still not prevent such instances as Saturday’s stabbing from occurring again.
(editorial: despite the fact that the stabbing occurred as a tangent to the pub crawl and could have happened entirely on its own without any such pub crawl existing)
Pub crawls have been an extremely popular staple in the Baltimore area for those looking to socialize or raise money for various charities over the years. Saturday’s incident has shed an unfortunate spotlight on these events as out of control binge drinking disruptions that end in violence, a perception that may be difficult to shake unless future events go smoothly, featuring the cooperation and courtesy among businesses/organizers the attending members of the SBNA meeting spoke of. Whether or not a piece of legislation for required permits for pub crawls will be introduced remains to be seen.
(my full opinion on the matter of permits for pub crawls is here)