Stabbing shows center doesn't belong in Fells Point

November 19, 2009

The Sun's reporting of a stabbing at Beans & Bread ("Homeless center worker charged in stabbing," Nov. 18) illustrates the difficulties we in the Fell's Point area have endured as a result of the operation of St. Vincent de Paul's soup kitchen.

During protracted zoning hearings and negotiations, the management of St. Vincent de Paul repeatedly has assured us that their ever-expanding soup kitchen and homeless shelter polices the behavior of its clients.

During this latest incident, as reported in The Sun, one of St. Vincent de Paul's own employees is accused of following a homeless client outside of the facility and stabbing him in the back. The suspected assailant was a convicted drug dealer, according to court records. So much for screening employees, and so much for policing the Beans & Bread operation.

St. Vincent de Paul's publicity machine quickly responded to the stabbing incident with a press release that said, "This was an isolated incident. During the 32 years that Beans & Bread has been in operation, there has not been a single incident of this nature."

In truth, the East Baltimore Guide newspaper reported a similar incident on March 24 of this year, when a patron of the soup kitchen was arrested after threatening another man with a knife.

This latest incident is tragic, but it is highly representative of St. Vincent de Paul's management of the facility it maintains in our residential neighborhood. And to make matters worse, the stabbing occurred on the eve of St. Vincent de Paul's demolition, which has torn up a small, historic alley, scarring it with a vacant lot.

St. Vincent de Paul's sponsoring organization may be named after a saint, but Beans & Bread has acted unrighteously and does not belong in a residentially zoned neighborhood. Deirdre Hammer, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Douglass Place Neighborhood Association.

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