A chaotic incident involving teenagers at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor has stoked an anxiety that has become a perennial — and polarizing — issue, the Baltimore Sun reports. The Memorial Day weekend incident — in which six were arrested for destruction of property and disorderly conduct — marks at least the fourth time since last summer a large group of youths has been implicated in rowdy, public behavior. In each situation, police charged a number of juveniles with crimes. The debate over possible causes and prevention tactics has split community members over familiar fault lines: teen versus adults, black versus white, city versus county.
As the end of the school year looms, adults are grappling to answer the question: Where can teens spend free time without getting into trouble? Teens say there are too few spaces where they can spend time unsupervised. May or Bernard “Jack” Young said Saturday’s incident was a “parenting question.” In the city, a youth curfew has been on the books for about 25 years, with City Council passing a stricter version in 2014. Experts say that young people who gather in large groups are often seen as inherently troublesome — whether the teens are actually causing trouble or not — especially when the young people are black. The Memorial Day flare-up has some looking to revive the now-defunct Inner Harbor Project, a youth-led nonprofit founded in 2012 to build goodwill between teens, police and businesses. It closed in the summer of 2017 amid the loss of its executive director and a question about funding.