Scott Presler
© Courtesy of Scott Presler
Conservative activist Scott Presler after street cleanup event in Baltimore, Md., on Aug. 5, 2019.
Some 200 volunteers combed through the streets of northwest Baltimore on Aug. 5, cleaning up trash and weeds in an "Americans Helping Americans" event organized by conservative activist Scott Presler.

Starting at 7 a.m. at the corner of North Fulton Avenue and Westwood Avenue, the volunteers spread through the surrounding blocks. By 8 p.m., they had collected more than 12 tons of trash — destination junkyard.

Many locals expressed gratitude to the participants, and some joined in, Presler said in a phone call to The Epoch Times.

He learned from talking to local residents that "the people of Baltimore love their country and love their city and they're proud to live there," but the government isn't doing enough to solve the trash problem — specifically illegal dumping at abandoned buildings.

Baltimore trash cleanup
© Courtesy of Scott Presler
“Before” and “after” images of an alley during a trash cleanup event in Baltimore, Md., on Aug. 5, 2019.
The city has struggled with trash in its streets for years and its shrinking population has left some 16,000 uninhabitable empty houses. Many of the homes are in an unsafe condition, and the city owns many of them, but only comes once a year to clean up the alleys, Presler was told.
Baltimore trash cleanup
© Courtesy of Scott Presler
“Before” and “after” images of an alley during a trash cleanup event in Baltimore, Md., on Aug. 5, 2019.
"Some people were believing that the people of Baltimore just don't care or they want to live that way," he said. "And that's just not true. They don't want to live that way. I think they just needed somebody to show love and that's what we did."

Baltimore volunteers trash cleanup
© Courtesy of Scott Presler
Volunteers after a trash cleanup event in Baltimore, Md., on Aug. 5, 2019.
The idea to organize a cleanup came to Presler after President Donald Trump recently chided Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) for squalid conditions in the congressman's district, which includes downtown and West Baltimore.

"I'm so tired of people saying, 'We should do this, we should do that' ... I was just like, 'I've had it. I'm going to go to Baltimore, even if it's just me on a street corner picking up trash,'" Presler said in a prior interview.

Baltimore trash cleanup
© Courtesy of Scott Presler
“Before” and “after” images of an alley during a trash cleanup event in Baltimore, Md., on Aug. 5, 2019.
He put out a notice on July 28 to his more than 300,000 followers on Twitter, asking if anybody wanted to join him. By the next day, he had almost 100 volunteers, with about half of them from Baltimore and the rest from across the country.

Trump Supporters and More

The majority of the participants were conservatives and Trump supporters — those being most of Presler's followers, he said. Those joining on the spot were likely of differing political leanings.

"Scott, I don't agree with your political stance," he said a woman told him in a Facebook message. "But I want you to know that I love what you did and I want you to include me in the next cleanup you do."

"That to me was the coolest part," he said.

Presler initially kept details of the event under wraps, concerned that protesters, such as those from the violent far-left Antifa group, might show up.

One Antifa activist posted the location of the event on Twitter on Aug. 5, calling Presler a "neo-fascist" and accused him of coming to Baltimore "making like ... doing a cleanup of the city."

"Are you going to come help?" Presler responded. There seemed to be no response from the activist.

There were no issues during the event itself, Presler said, apart from the fact that they could have used more dumpsters.

'We Did It Anyway'

Presler revealed that despite his efforts to comply, he ran afoul of city regulations in organizing the event. On July 31, he applied for a permit to place dumpsters on several streets for the cleanup.

"For 3 days, we respectfully called the office asking for an update," he said in an Aug. 7 tweet. "The city of Baltimore never approved the permits, so we did it, anyway."

On Aug. 7, he received a notice denying his request.

The city's Department of Transportation "disapproved the permit request because these areas are residential and already have issues with parking," it said. "We suggest that you work with the Community Associations for these areas."

More to Come

Presler said he's been contacted by a volunteer who's putting together another cleanup in Baltimore and already has 30 volunteers; Presler would like to make it a monthly occasion. Another man is putting together a similar event in Los Angeles; Presler plans to also help with that effort.

The effort has caught the attention of some local and right-leaning media. Also, the White House's official Twitter account thanked the volunteers in an Aug. 6 post, sharing one of Presler's images, which shows an alley before and after the cleanup.

"This one event is having a national impact," Presler said. "This one cleanup is making a difference."