City Paper is not for tourists
University of Maryland Urban Studies and Planning Professor Bill Hanna’s letter (“The Vendor of It All,” 5/26) about food vendors in Langley Park tries to rationalize the fact that Prince George’s County police don’t enforce open-air lunch-cart restrictions, while he impugns the motives of Prince George’s Councilmember Will Campos for pushing for not an all-out crack-down, but some semblance of enforcement.
But what good are laws that go unenforced or selectively enforced? If in some part of Prince George’s County beyond CASA de Maryland’s reach an African-American petite entrepreneur set up an illegal lunch cart, would he/she receive such a consideration if nearby businesses objected? And what do police say to young African-American drug dealers, who may see cracking down on what they are doing as a distinction without a difference vis-à-vis illegal lunch carts? They might moreover ask why persons who might not even be here legally get special consideration while the law’s full brunt comes down on African-Americans who can trace their ancestry to colonial times.
Protest if you will that drugs are illegal and lunches are not, but both restrictions are mala prohibita—not male in se—and appreciate that not everyone might see that distinction as important.
And even if established businesses really want to gentrify Langley Park, are their owners not more likely to be voters and legal residents? Does not democracy demand their elected representatives accord their wishes greater weight?