It was just a spontaneous idea, said Conservative activist Scott Presler, explaining how he came to oversee nearly 100 volunteers to pick up trash in Baltimore.
“My folks always told me, ‘Don’t ever offer a problem without offering a solution,’” he said in a phone call.
When President Donald Trump recently chided Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) for squalid conditions in the congressman’s district, which includes downtown and West Baltimore, political talking heads offered their two cents on the matter, many focusing on Trump’s choice of words.
Presler, however, decided to act.
“I’m so tired of people saying, ‘We should do this, we should do that’ … I was just like, ‘I’ve had, it. I’m going to go to Baltimore, even if it’s just me on a street corner picking up trash,’” he said.
He put out a notice on July 28 to his more than 300,000 followers on Twitter, asking if anybody wanted to join him.
By the next day, he had nearly 100 volunteers, about half of them from Baltimore and the other from across the country.
“I think this is going to be pretty significant,” Presler said.
Presler is known for his high-energy style, organizing voter registration drives and conservative activism workshops.
He quickly set up a spreadsheet and started to put together the plan—all the volunteers will congregate next week at a designated location, sign in, receive gloves, trash bags, and water, and disperse into two neighborhoods that locals guarantee have “ample amounts of trash” to pick up, Presler said. He added that the numerous donations he has received will allow him to arrange for dumpsters so trash collected during the initiative can be properly disposed of.
Some of the poorer areas of the city have had issues with littering and illegal dumping for years, made worse by the abandoned buildings and empty lots left behind by people who fled the pervasive and interconnected problems of violent crime and lack of economic opportunity.