COMMENTARY: Penn-North”Nuisance Store” Destroying Arch Social Club, Broader Baltimore Must Go!

The Arch Social Club was casually founded in 1905 and officially incorporated on March 15, 1912. The club is very much a child of Baltimore’s brutally repressive racial environment. Black people at the dawn of the 20th century were savagely pushed to the political, social, cultural and economic margins by a combination of white folkways and state statutes.Out of necessity, African Americans sought collective survival in the construction of a parallel civil society.

Raymond A, Coates, Jeremiah S. Hill and Sam L Barney founded the Arch Social Club. It was dedicated to:
[T]he social, moral and intellectual uplift of its members, and in order that charity may be practiced in a Christian-like spirit and true friendship and brotherly love be promoted and maintained. “


By Ralph E. Johnson, Jr.

(BALTIMORE – September 18, 2017) – If black businesses in poverty-concentrated districts were guarded like businesses in districts that are deemed racially, economically and socially more valuable, the Arch Social Club would not be inundated with mobs of loitering drug seekers socially popping illicit drugs as if they were M&M Peanuts.

For over 100 years, the iconic Arch Social Club has provided entertainment, community, political, religious and educational services to the residents of the 7th Baltimore City Councilmanic District in West Baltimore. It is one of the few beacons of community upliftment in Baltimore’s highest crime and incarceration district. Over the past several years, the Arch Social Club has been losing hundreds of thousands of dollars due to the terrible “eye sore” activity that has been essentially allowed to persist by authorities.

In layman’s terms, it’s a black business in a black neighborhood, so, who cares?

The 7th District was once home to another iconic institution that was discarded by Baltimore’s status quo. It was the world-renowned Royal Theatre. The Royal hosted some of the world’s greatest performers, but because of lack of interest in Afrocentric culture which inspired community growth, the community’s epicenter of entertainment was erased from existence.

Today, the historic Arch Social Club is faced with ruins due to social ills gone unchecked. One of the primary causes for the open-air drug market that erodes the value of the Arch Social Club is the A&M Grocery next door (2424 Pennsylvania Ave). There are probably more drugs distributed in A&M Grocery than University Hospital, Sinai Hospital and Johns Hopkins combined. Zombie-like drug activity is wide open. On any given day it looks like an All-White Party on the corner of Pennsylvania and North Avenues.

Damn near 24-hours a day, 30 to 50 people are hovered around the A&M Grocery having a Kumbaya drug celebration! Children are unable to safely frequent the library across the street because of the continuously illicit drug activity that saturates the area. Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh and Commissioner Kevin Davis are well aware of the massive circus at Penn-North, but they persist to disrespectfully politic around one of the city’s main commuter subway stations because it’s located in a highly-impoverished district!

If there was massive drug activity in front of the subway on Broadway and Monument Street across from Johns Hopkins Hospital, it would be shut down in 5 minutes.

The A&M Grocery is a “Nuisance Store” if ever there was one. Its refuge to drug traffickers is detrimental to the progression of Baltimore. I am reaching out to all of those who are striving for a better city to call the anonymous “Drug Nuisance Store” complaint number (410-396-2477), so that Western District Commander Sheree Briscoe can urgently address this hazardous area and so that other authorities can look into the drug activity in this area.

PLEASE call 311 as well as the 7th District City Councilman Leon F. Pinkett, III. His phone number is 410-396-4810. If you would like to forward Major Sheree Briscoe a formal complaint, email her at Thank you for caring!

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