Baltimore city officials shut down the city's DIY art/work space The Bell Foundry on Monday, citing safety violations and evicting dozens of tenants. The move quickly followed the fatal fire at Oakland's Ghost Ship venue this past Friday night, but city officials told the Baltimore Sun that the move to formally condemn the building was unrelated to that event. They said that the closing occurred because of a complaint about the building's conditions Monday morning.
Inspectors arrived around 1 PM and The Bell Foundry was immediately vacated that afternoon, in a process one tenant described to the Sun as like a "raid." Once on the premises, city housing and fire officials found four safety violations: no valid permit, unlawful removal of beams from the ceiling, use of flammables and combustibles, and unsafe conditions. The Fire Department issued a cease-and-desist order blocking tenants from using the building.
Fire Department spokesman Roman Clark said he could not disclose further information about the complaint that lead to the inspection.
A GoFundMe page has been created to support the relocation of The Bell Foundry and its tenants, as well as any related legal fees; so far it has exceeded its initial goal of $5,000 and raised $12,301. The page features a video posted via Facebook Live of the eviction in process; it also says the city has not offered the tenants of the space relocation assistance.
One Baltimore resident described The Bell Foundry to the Sun as "a safe space for queer [and] trans identities and other marginalized identities."
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