Squeegee Kids: Baltimore’s Unchecked Extortion Racket Victimizing Motorists

BALTIMORE, MD – There’s a problem that has been going on for years now in Baltimore, one which has largely been left unchecked by elected officials and police, resulting in de facto extortion, outright theft, vandalism, and even fatal violence. The problem in question is what the locals call the “squeegee kids,” and motorists in Baltimore have essentially been left with little recourse regarding the dangers posed by these squeegee-toting youngsters.

Squeegee kids/people, for most Americans, is largely thought of as something relegated to the past. A bygone – and annoying – practice that typically occurred in larger U.S. cities back in the 1980s that seemed to mostly dissipate after city leaders across the country worked throughout the 80s and early 90s to put it to a stop.

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But to this day, the problem of squeegee kids remains throughout the city of Baltimore.

Even for folks who haven’t directly experienced a squeegee kid interaction, they undoubtedly know how the interaction goes: a driver finds themselves stuck at a red light or caught in traffic, the squeegee person (or people) makes their way over to the driver and often performs the squeegeeing without the driver’s blessing, and then the driver finds themselves in a situation where people who’ve surrounded their vehicle are now demanding cash.

Depending on who you ask, those sympathetic to squeegee kids would liken their tactics to simply trying to make an honest buck, whereas other motorists would describe these unwanted interactions to be tantamount to a shakedown. And based upon what’s going on in Baltimore to this day, the shakedown perspective on squeegee kids seems to be the more accurate description.

There are countless examples of this sort of tacitly approved extortion taking place within Baltimore, such as one incident caught on video over the summer where a driver stopped at Mt. Royal near North Avenue in Baltimore explicitly told some squeegee kids to not touch his car – and was assaulted thereafter by the groups of teens.

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In May, a similar scenario played out as well that was caught on camera – where a couple of squeegee kids began attacking a driver at the Mt. Royal stoplight after not playing along with the coercion game played by these miscreants.

Back in 2020, one Baltimore woman who happened to have a dashcam running in her vehicle caught the moments where some squeegee kids busted out her driver’s side window when she “tried to wave them off.”

In late October, one Baltimore local initially declined a squeegee kid’s incessant tactics, but eventually caved to giving the induvial a couple of bucks. In response, the squeegee kid told the gentleman, “No, I want more,” and stole the man’s wallet – making off with about $300 cash.

One woman back in May had her bank account drained by a mob of squeegee kids in Baltimore who surrounded her vehicle and used the victim’s Cash App on her phone to steal hundreds of dollars from the woman.

There’s simply no way to convincingly spin it, the squeegee kid charade isn’t some kind of legitimate hustle or sought-after service, it’s a modern manifestation of the old Cosa Nostra pizzo protection rackets – a.k.a., give us money or else bad things are going to happen.

This past July, 48-year-old Timothy Reynolds found himself being hounded by a group of teenage squeegee kids in Baltimore, with the harassment by the teens being so intense he wound up exiting his vehicle and producing a baseball bat to scare the teens off. However, a 14-year-old squeegee kid shot Reynolds five times, with the teen later being indicted for murder roughly a month after the incident.

But as liberal cities and progressive district attorneys often do with their criminal population, a plea deal was arranged with the teenage killer which will render him a manslaughter charge instead of a murder rap while also reaping the benefits of having his case handled by the juvenile court system.

Days after Reynolds was literally murdered by a squeegee kid, Baltimore City Councilman Kristerfer Burnett delivered an address claiming that people within Baltimore were being unfairly critical of the dangers posed by squeegee kids.

“I preface what I’m about to say with I’m not trying to minimize anyone’s negative encounters, or the tragedy that happened last week. The circumstances that led to that are deeply saddening but I also want to highlight that a lot of the incidents that occur are isolated. For years, my daily commute through west and southwest Baltimore takes me through corners on Hilton Street where I used to regularly encounter youth and young adults who were squeegeeing car windshields for money. Personally, I never had anything but positive encounters with these young people. And while I know others have had the opposite, as we’ve seen that firsthand over the last few days, I want to give context to those making incredibly harmful and damaging blanket statements about squeegee workers in Baltimore City.”

To be clear, the invasive roadside squeegeeing is illegal in Baltimore, and has been for years – but the police don’t do anything about it since the elected officials are basically telling them to give a hands-off approach. Even after all the violent crimes connected to squeegee kids, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby outwardly stated her office isn’t going to prosecute anyone for the roadside extortion racket, and even Mayor Brandon Scott has said he doesn’t want to see squeegee kids getting arrested.

For reasons beyond comprehension, Baltimore is seemingly the only major U.S. city that has had a persistent problem pertaining to squeegee kids since the 1980s and has yet to properly address the matter by enforcing the laws on the books that explicitly outlaw the roadside extortion.

In Baltimore’s western district, officials deployed a program to literally give the squeegee kids money in exchange for no longer participating in the squeegeeing business – or as former Maryland Juvenile Justice Coalition Director Kinji Scott mockingly put it, paying “children not to be bad.”

“I don’t care if you give them $3,000. That doesn’t resolve the issue… We don’t pay children not to be bad. We show them how not to be bad. This is a great insult.”

As of November 13th, the best Mayor Scott can seemingly do is to only prohibit squeegee kids from operating at “six high-volume corners” within the city, meaning all that will happen as a result will be that the extortion racket will take place at different street corners moving forward – because nothing makes extortion more palatable quite like telling would-be victims that at least they’ll have a change of scenery while enduring shakedowns in their vehicles.

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