The Shomrim of Baltimore neighborhood watch group published an explanation on Thursday about why it has been featuring a photo on its Facebook page since Tuesday that shows a black male riding a bike and towing another.
The photo garned several critical comments on Facebook that the picture implied that the man was stealing the bike—a racially charged accusation by a group that recently was the that heightened tensions between Jews and blacks in Northwest Baltimore.
The explanation on the group's Facebook page—whose stated mission is to "gather intelligence on security and safety issues affecting our community"—said the photo is not meant to indicate the man is involved in wrongdoing.
"As always all photos are taken by volunteers and/or community members and are not an indication of comment on a person's guilt or innocence," the comment attached to the photo during the 4 p.m. hour states.
"All incidents reported on this site are for informational purposes only and all individuals are innocent until proven guilty in a Court of law," the comment states.
The photo is posted just below the "about" description of the page, which states: "If you see anything suspicious, please call us at 410 358-9999."
In the photo, a young, black male is pictured riding one bicycle and towing another, riderless bike. The photo was originally posted without any explanation or caption. It drew criticism from Facebook readers in the comments section under the photo. Others in the comment stream implied the man was stealing the bike.
All of the nearly 20 comments have been removed.
Pikesville Patch received the photo in its regular news feed from the group that patrols neighborhoods in Upper Park Heights—a group of communities that straddles the northwest corner of Baltimore City and Pikesville.
Shomrim of Baltimore posted at around 4 p.m. this comment after calls from Pikesville Patch about the photo:
"We received several phone calls regarding a group of individuals that initially each had an individual bike and then after riding in circles around the same several blocks ended up with a another bike as seen here.
"We observed from the distance and did not witness the group do anything that warranted any further observation. If anyone recognizes that it is their bike in the photo and that it was taken without permission they should call 911 to report the theft and contact Shomrim."
Nathan Willner, general counsel for Shomrim, did not return calls this afternoon to Shomrim's hotline, or to his office.
What do you think of the photograph?