The Bowleys Quarters Social Club Facebook page is a public forum for discussing neighborhood topics in the waterfront Baltimore County community, whose residents, according to the U.S. Census, are 92 percent white. A. F. James MacArthur of the Baltimore Spectator found the page, and upon reading recent comments, promptly unearthed fodder for a thought-provoking post entitled "Beware of Bowleys Quarters! – White Residents Casually Speak of Shooting Black Men Walking in Street."
"On Monday," MacArthur wrote in the piece, dated today, "when Jennifer Mays posted on a Bowleys Quarters neighborhood Facebook page that she'd seen three black men walking in the street, she probably had no idea how far things would go." The comments in response to her post included one from Rob Bartosch (all names are as they appeared on Facebook and all quotes are sic), who wrote, "Just shoot them Bowleys Quarters hasn't been on the news this week"; another from a Mark Wodarski that stated: "Only way to resolve the issue is just shoot em. I'm always ready for them fuckers"; and a third from a Craig Stitley that added: "Why wait for them to stick first. Get the shot gun lets go hunting! Lol they gonna learn tonight."
Reaction on the page to the Spectator's post, and to the original comments, has been explosive. (UPDATE: So explosive that this afternoon the page was pulled down.) Stephanie Raynor was "appalled" at what the commenters wrote, asking "Are people really that ignorant in 2015 to not only feel that way but actually post it on Facebook," and Jennifer Dewees Sproul found the comments "horrific" and proclaimed herself "embarrassed to call these people 'neighbors.'" Paula Yarbrough added that "it's frightening that a private innocent conversation was taken off of the site and twisted out of proportion. Were some of the comments stupid? Absolutely!!! But don't judge a whole community by some very narrow minded people!!!!"
Commenter Craig Stitley tried to defend himself, writing "I know what I typed and I said lol and again no racist comments were ever made by me I am the furthest thing from racist," while threatening to sue MacArthur by stating that "I am contacting my attorney and sueing for slander."
Steve Thomas had some sage advice on that score. "BQ white guy here," he wrote, adding that "theres not really much to take out of context. Satire is hard to infer through a medium that doesnt enunciate tone. The fact that it looks as if anyone is going along with these obviously racist comments, looks exactly like youre going along with these comments. People should be smarter about what they post. Yes keep an eye out on your neighborhood but don't jump to radical actions or thoughts. Even if you dont go through with it someone may read it and agree that shooting and killing complete strangers, just for taking a walk, sounds like a good idea. Lawyer up all you want. Anything you post on facebook is public domain. You wont get anywhere."