Fourteen cops from the Baltimore City Police vice squad were caught on camera this past February 6th, raiding a local bar, then abruptly shutting it down for business at midnight on a Friday night, after finding an alleged code violation, and all without any warrant, notice or apparent authority of any sort from the police officers.
Nicolas Ramos owns the 40-seat local bar “La Rumba”, and had the presence of mind to capture video of the probably unlawful raid, and to give the cops a big piece of his mind in the 4 minute recording below.
“Beautiful Baltimore!” the middle-aged bar latino bar owner can be heard exclaiming, “Twenty police here, not for prostitution, not for drugs, for hot water! Beautiful!”
That wasn’t Ramos’ first visit from Baltimore City Police either, or his last.
Officers had raided La Rumba two days earlier without giving a ticket, saying that he’d forgotten to pay a minor fine.
The Baltimore vice cops, returned again on February 12th to shut down Ramos’ bar for good, and it stands idle today.
The reason? “There isn’t enough toilet paper in the ladies bathroom.”
“Mr. Ramos just wants to be able to run his business free of government interference. I can’t even get a hearing from the authorities,” said said lawyer Miguel Palmeiro who is representing Mr. Ramos.
This Baltimore citizen’s small business has been shuttered without any due process or hearing to date, or any notice with right to cure, all for not having enough TP in a toilet stall.
Any he’s not alone.
“La Rumba isn’t the only victim,” said Palmeiro, “Nine other Hispanic business owners have reported similar methods of abusive and discriminatory police, health, and fire marshall tactics against them during the past year.”
The almost too numerous to count Baltimore City Police Officers entered Ramos’ establishment without presenting any warrant
As video clearly shows, a man wearing a shirt saying “POLICE” departed the kitchen area, behind La Rumba’s main bar, after having conducted a search.
During the first minute of the video, it’s tough to understand what the police said exactly, but it sounded like they said, “Fix your hot water.”
“We are hard working citizens with families to support. For years we have established businesses in our Baltimore community, the growing Hispanic community, and we employ a lot of people. Shutting down our businesses based on fabricated and trumped up charges takes food off our families’ tables,” said Nicolas Ramos, owner of La Rumba.
Over half a dozen unmarked police cars were used in the raid, which might have included employees from the Baltimore Liquor License Commission or Baltimore City Health Department, but we just don’t know because everyone in the video has “police” on their clothing.
If the people shining flashlights are in fact Baltimore cops, their activity to interfere with Ramos as a photographer might run afoul of their General Order J-16, their department’s consent agreement to respect the First Amendment signed with the federal Department of Justice’s Civil Rights division back in 2012.
Ramos’ citation says that agents from those two civil authorities were “notified” leading to the shut down, which seems pretty odd when you consider the lack of notification towards the small business person.
“We just want due process.” said Palmiero, “My client Mr. Ramos is still waiting for answers, and has lost a monht’s worth of business. He was only was served with a notice of violation on the 24th of February,” which can be seen below the video.
It’s unclear what powers of inspection a health inspector might have in Baltimore City under local ordinance, but it’s highly unlikely that they’ve got the power to breach the 4th Amendment by bringing a bunch of police officers into someone’s business establishment to coerce a search activity.
“It appears that the Baltimore City Police is an organization seeking protection from legitimate business owners,” said Palmeiro, “And this has to stop.”