The face of the mayor looks down from a wall of Kay's Liquor store at Biddle and Milton, on a poster promoting a "neighborhood conversation," an opportunity to "join us to discuss ideas and solutions for tackling Baltimore City's vacant and abandoned properties."
Michelle Ha, the owner, promotes activities like this. She urges her customers to go, to listen, to contribute, to make this city, her city, a better place. She not only planned to attend Wednesday's meeting, she spent the previous day at City Hall volunteering to help organize the event.
Before that, she was looking for a disc jockey for a spaghetti dinner she's having for 300 neighbors in June.
But before that, she was cleaning up blood after one of her customers, who had just spent $1.35 on a mini bottle of Absolut vodka, was held up at gunpoint, shot in the upper left thigh, robbed of a roll of money and left writhing on the tile floor until police and paramedics arrived.
It happened at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, right under the poster of the smiling mayor and another placard promoting an upcoming "Convoy of Hope," a fair to help impoverished city neighborhoods.
A police officer once said jokingly that Ha had the private cell phone number of every cop in the Eastern district and wasn't afraid to call whomever and whenever, regardless of rank or time.
She has organized cookouts for the police and residents, gone to meetings and attended community cop walks.
But most of all, at a time when talking to the law means snitching, which can then mean getting shot or worse, Ha isn't afraid to, well, snitch.
She calls 911 at the drop of a dime, and everybody knows it. She puts pictures of cops and residents on her walls, and confronts drug dealers who dare stand on her corner.
When the gunshot rang out, her friends flooded her store. A police officer appeared almost instantaneously. "These are my people," Ha told me. "They've been calling all day asking if I'm all right."
Ha had told a reporter last year that no one has tried to rob her in 10 years, that the violence outside doesn't come inside, that her store is an oasis on a blighted corner. She lives in an apartment above the store; her husband and son have retreated to North Carolina, but she can't give up the city life.
She was behind her bullet-resistant glass when the 44-year-old victim, a regular customer who stops in four or five times a day to buy 40-ounce Buds, went to the first window. He ordered his small vodka bottle for a friend when another man came in and the two started talking.
Ha overheard the gunman demand money and the victim respond, "You gonna shoot me in the store?" She said the man fired and the victim dropped a wad of money on the floor. As the wounded man collapsed and rolled toward the back, the gunman calmly picked up the bills before walking out, jumping into a silver SUV and driving away.
The owner shooed people out of the store and made sure a key witness stayed for police - a reward, of sorts, from a trusted community friend to law enforcers helping protect her.
Police said the victim was treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital and later interviewed by detectives.
Ha quickly returned to her routine. She has a dinner to prepare for and a DJ to find. And she's still haggling with city bureaucracy over converting a nearby vacant rowhouse into a clubhouse for the neighborhood elderly, to give them a safe place to meet, away from the violence on the corner.
That's why the mayor's "neighborhood conversation" on abandoned properties is so important to her.