Okay, Andrew, what you have described to me, a group of black men walking down a primary street in warm weather with full ski masks on, is something new to Harm City.
Traditionally it is the job of a bus driver not to let a patron board, and not to continue driving if a boarded patron is wearing a mask that would prevent identification. Two years ago, during a very cold snap, I was on a bus when the driver stopped and refused to continue until one guy took off his ski mask, and that was when ski masks made sense to wear outside, not in this kind of weather in which they are suffocating and only serve the purpose of terrorizing and preventing identification. I recall last summer entering my bank with a ball cap on and having a teller say loudly, “Sir, please remove your cap.”
Since this is such a new phenomenon, I will not try and analyze it, but simply note the known cases, and also note that the unseasonable wearing of ski masks in Baltimore has always, in the past been limited to participants in an ongoing crime.
Many masks were worn in the riots and during the purge back in April and this may simply be an extension of that behavior.
1. A group of young black men walking down Harford Road in Hamilton with ski-masks on, 65 degrees, humid, no breeze, day
2. Two masked black youth on bicycles riding in circles in Hamilton, observing adults and signaling to each other, 60 degrees, foggy, day
3. Two masked black men loitering in a Hamilton retail food establishment, observing employees, management and customers, paying particular attention to cashier and book keeping activity, day
4. One masked black youth walking through an Overlea drug store, not making any purchases, and then leaving, day
5. Two large men [race unknown] with full masks and full hooded coats, with hands in pockets, walking down a foggy street in Baynesville in about 65 degrees towards a gas station and liquor store that has been robbed recently, night
6. One masked black man standing at the bus stop at Stemmers Run and Old Eastern at 11 p.m. on a warm foggy, rainy, 60 degree night observing the passengers on the passing buses as if looking for someone and then walking off, night
7. A sign on a supermarket door stating that service will not be given to customers who wear masks. [A recent 7-11 sign also posted warnings to take down hoods when entering the store, and there is the old term “hood” used to describe a criminal that obscures his appearance in the commission of a crime…]
This is a pretty broad geographical spread for such a scattering of sightings. It is interesting that I have seen no cops detaining or questioning mask wearers. Other than riots, purge attacks and terrorism I have not previously seen the use of masks when not involved in a masquerade or Halloween celebration.
If only the United States, had, in its long and storied history, examples of at least one organized group [for some of these groups showed cohesion] that wore masks in concert with certain actions, then we might have a basis for an interpretation as to what activity the wearing of these masks is intended to support.