Playgrounds: No Place To Play Parents, Fearing Drugs, Keep Kids At Home.

Adams, 35, said he can recall shooting incidents near or beneath a covered basketball court at Madison Square as well as occasions in which police have chased away drug dealers from the playground.

Adams still doesn't know how the blood got onto the playground that day. But the only places his children are allowed to play now are in front of his rowhouse or in the back yard -- and only when Adams is watching.

"This is their playground," he said, pointing to a concrete sidewalk.

Recent incidents in East Baltimore in which children have been arrested for drug and firearm offenses have caused concern throughout the city about how children are occupied between dismissal from school and arrival at home.

A 10-year-old boy was arrested as he played on a swing with four vials of cocaine and cash stuffed in his sock. Another 10-year-old was arrested for using an unloaded .22-caliber handgun to rob a 9-year-old of a propeller-topped beanie.

Both children were released to their parents.

Many parents say the playgrounds are being overrun by drug dealers and the violence that accompanies them -- and some parents are willing to take action to regain the playgrounds.

"There is little question that if all parents who are tired of this got together we could at least stop the drugs on the playgrounds," said Carolyn Widgins, who lives in an apartment nearby on Pennsylvania Avenue in West Baltimore.

"This is not an East Baltimore problem, but a city problem."

As Widgins spoke, she closely watched her two children play on a small playground off Pennsylvania Avenue. School had recently dismissed, and near the playground several men who appeared to be in their late teens or early 20s gathered at a bench.

One man was overheard talking about "specials" and "girl," drug lingo for types and packaging of drugs.

Widgins, who never allows her children to play outside alone, had seen all of the men before.

"The dope dealers are back around. They almost own this area," she says. "Around here the peace lasts all of 15 minutes. You barely get to the playground and you've got to leave."

Widgins, 26, gathers her children -- one 5 years old, the other 7 -- and shields their view of the men with her body as she walks away. She avoids their questions of why they're leaving.

"There's only so much you can do," she says. "How much can you hide some hideous side of life from them. They're going to ask questions, good questions, questions that I don't know how to answer."

As she's leaving, one of the men yells, "You ain't got to go, ain't nobody bothering you. Go ahead and let your kids enjoy themselves." Widgins does not respond.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke ordered increased police patrols at playgrounds two weeks ago after two children were arrested for drug offenses. The patrols, which went into effect last Monday, has police paying closer attention to children in the company of older young men at playgrounds.

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