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Man attempts to set himself on fire as issues continue between homeless and city

By Tommie Clark

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    BALTIMORE (WBAL) — Tensions between a homeless encampment and the city are at an all-time high as police said that a man tried to set himself on fire under the Jones Falls Expressway (JFX) Bridge last night.

WBAL-TV has been covering the escalating issue. The city has been working to assist individuals experiencing homelessness under the bridge for days.

The encampment is right where the Baltimore Farmers’ Market takes place. WBAL-TV has been told negotiations have failed, leading to more trauma and the altercation last night.

“Everyone needs a place to live. This whole thing is sad,” Mitchell Salland, owner of Migue’s Donuts said.

Sunday, the Baltimore Farmers’ Market went on as planned. “Migue’s Donuts” has set up under the JFX bridge for the market the past two decades. This week, the owner said he was concerned that might not happen.

“I didn’t know if we’d be here. I want to be here for my customers,” Salland said.

It comes after a dozen people experiencing homelessness refused to leave to make space for the event. On Saturday night, the situation escalated following failed negotiations with the city. They were told they had three hours to move.

“The demonstration last night was totally uncalled for,” Minister Christina Flowers, an advocate for People Experiencing Homelessness, said. “One of my individuals, one of his demonstrations to be – I’m sitting in my tent and I’m putting gas around it. Stay away from my tent. That took the police from 0-to-10. They turn into violent vultures.”

Police confirmed just before midnight, a man “experienced a behavioral crisis and attempted to set himself on fire.”

“They felt like the only way to deal with our crisis and trauma on the streets is with their own aggressive force. I saw it for myself last night. They’re too aggressive for individuals with mental illnesses,” Flowers said.

The 12 individuals did end up moving their tents to the side of the market, but Flowers said they’re not going anywhere.

Vendors say something more has to be done and soon.

“We really need to do something better than what we’re doing. This is not the answer. I’m also trying to make a living. I’d be in the same position if I didn’t have the ability to work. We need to think bigger. There (is) answers. Let’s find them,” Salland said.

According to officials, medics transported the man who attempted to set himself on fire to an area hospital for treatment.

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