This week's decision by the City of Hagerstown to shut off water and power service to the former National Guard Armory on Potomac Street is an act of racial discrimination, according to the Rev. Philip Hundley, a black minister and the head of one of the two youth groups the move leaves without a home. City officials insist their only concern was the more than $3,000 in unpaid utility bills.
If there was racism in this incident, the hard proof is lacking. Even the Rev. Hundley says it was "real subtle." What seems more likely, based on our knowledge of the situation, is that officials of the previous city government didn't provide the leadership that could have turned the old armory into a new facility for youth.
Hundley's group, 21st Century Teens, at one time shared the armory with Has-Beens, Inc., a youth boxing club and the Hagerstown Soccer Club, which used the armory's gymnasium for winter practices. But even though some work has been done, the building is old and in need of major repairs to make it safe for youth activities.