BALTIMORE — Kerry Hawk-Lessard says that until last week, she would never have shied away from helping the scrappy kids she encounters daily in the city.
“I was on high alert. It was very intimidating,” Hawk-Lessard said.
She was stopped at North Gay Street and Orleans in the middle of rush hour traffic.
“I was waiting at the intersection and a young child came up to me and I told him not to scrape. I said if you had a Cash App I would write it down and send it to you more The minute I said it triggered it, shouting ‘Yo, she’s got the Cash app!’ said Hawk-Lessard.
Within seconds, his car was surrounded.
“Three adults approached my car, they were leaning in my car, had my phone. I was holding my phone. They opened my phone’s camera and the other gentleman had the QR codes and one by one they were accepting hundreds and hundreds of dollars, and I just emptied my account of nearly $2,000 in five minutes,” Hawk-Lessard explained.
Shocked and hurt, is how Hawk-Lessard describes her experience.
This is her hometown, she was born and raised in Pigtown, works as a community activist in the Native American community and is always ready to help those in need.
“I’m the kind of person who packs up groceries that I would give to homeless people,” Hawk-Lessard said.
Hawk-Lessard said she was burned once she let her guard down.
“I’ve always been unhappy with the rhetoric that’s been used about squeegee boys. I always thought it was unfair so I let my guard down,” Hawk-Lessard said. “I tried to overcompensate. It just hurt that someone was intentionally exploiting my kindness. I had already offered to do something for them and here they were smiling in my face knowing they were draining my bank account.”
She thinks the raclettes need to go, and Hawk-Lessard says to arm them with skills to get them off street corners and find jobs.
Although she learned a painful lesson, she will always give with her heart, just not from her car window.
“I’m just going to donate to charities that I know will help people. That’s how I’m going to get things done,” Hawk-Lessard said.