Teachers, administrators, parents and community activists want police to clean up a newly renovated playground at Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary School that is overrun by drug dealers, addicts and prostitutes.
Without police intervention, they said at a meeting this week, kids can't play safely on the jungle gym, sliding boards or basketball court at the playground, which underwent a $100,000 face lift.
"Our children are in danger," said Damion Olds, 29, whose daughter, Antwauna Robinson, 8, is a third-grader at Eutaw-Marshburn. Another daughter, Moesha Olds, 3, attends the school's Head Start program, housed in a portable building with bullet holes in it.
"That danger is the drugs that surround and consume our children and community day after day," said Olds. "Our children walk through drug activity on the way to and from school. There is shooting on the playground while our children are in school."
Olds was among several speakers at Monday's meeting, attended by about 70 people, at the West Baltimore school.
The meeting was organized by the Child First Authority, the Eutaw-Marshburn Police Athletic League, Metro Delta & Martin Luther King Head Start, Baltimore Public Schools, Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development , Druid Heights Community Development Corp. and the Mount Royal Improvement Association.
"We have too many bright, young students here that we treasure," said the Rev. Rodney Little, whose daughter is among about 550 children at the school. "I refuse to move out of the neighborhood that I love because of drug activity."
Police said they are working to eradicate the drug problem surrounding the school, which includes Wilson and McMechen streets, where there have been more than 50 arrests in two months, said Maj. Steven McMahon, commander of the Central District.
McMahon said authorities make arrests, but have no control over prison sentences.
He said most people get arrested a minimum of 10 times before they serve time. Several city police officers patrol outside the school, he said.
"The drug dealers and buyers are still there," McMahon said. "If I've got to step it up another step, I'll step it up another step. We're going to get the problem out of there."
City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., whose district includes the school, said he would talk with Mayor Martin O'Malley in the next few weeks about the problem.
"I would definitely like to see an increase in police visibility there," said Mitchell, who attended the meeting. "Also, I'd like to see stricter enforcement of prostitution and the drug activity there. I get a lot of complaints from residents in that area."
The councilman said it was a shame that the kids can't enjoy the playground, which was dedicated Nov. 23.
"School is supposed to be their escape from the cruel world, so to speak," he said. "And here they are. The crime is constant in their lives, and it shouldn't be."