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Baltimore

Leaked Records Of Baltimore Cop Exemplify Limits Of Police Reform

Back in April 2016, a Baltimore news report about “police recruiting perils after Freddie Gray”  focused on a new police hire with an ideal origin story. Luke Shelley, a National Guardsman deployed here during the Baltimore Uprising in April 2015, had recently joined the Baltimore Police Department (BPD). As a guardsman, he had been stationed at Mondawmin Mall, ground zero for the rioting that took place on April 27, 2015, “an experience that convinced [Shelley] he wanted to serve the city,” local ABC affiliate WMAR reported. “I want to be where the challenge is and where the need is for good police,” Shelley told WMAR in 2016. “To have that impact on countless lives—a hundred or a thousand or whoever you meet on a daily basis—I think is a pretty noble and high responsibility.”

The Baltimore Sun Publicly Acknowledges Its Racist Past

Being a respected news outlet comes with much responsibility, especially one that heavily covers race relations — take it from us! One of the longest-running publications that also happens to serve a predominately Black audience is the Baltimore Sun, and it recently drew public attention to a past history of racism that’s gone ignored for the newspaper’s entire 185 years in print. That is, until now. Lifting the paywall that usually requires readers to subscribe to read online articles, the Baltimore Sun editorial board released a lengthy apology in article form last week to call out its own legacy rooted in its founder, Arunah S. Abell. Here’s an excerpt from the opening paragraph of the Baltimore Sun‘s explanation below.

Restaurant Co-Ops Put Economic Justice On The Table

Food service is not an industry that most would associate as a beacon of social or economic justice. In fact, the restaurant industry is notorious for providing paltry wages, for engaging in shocking levels of wage theft, and for generally being comprised of toxic work environments marked by sexual harassment and human trafficking. In the face of horrendous work environments and staggering levels of worker exploitation, many restaurant workers and their advocates are advancing alternative models of management and ownership geared toward breaking the cycles of abuse and disempowerment that define much of the industry. One of the most interesting models being explored is the worker cooperative: businesses that are owned and run collectively by the workers themselves.

Amid Omicron Surge, Baltimore Police Got Even More Money

As the omicron variant surged into the new year, pushing statewide infection rates in Maryland past 30% and sending Baltimore City residents scrambling for COVID-19 tests and N95 masks, Baltimore City spent more money on the Baltimore Police Department. On Dec. 23, Baltimore City’s Board Of Estimates approved $18 million for three new police helicopters. The three new helicopters will replace the four old helicopters purchased in 2011 for $9.5 million, Baltimore Brew reported. It was the latest burst of additional funding since the Baltimore City Council voted to give the Baltimore Police a $28 million budget increase back in June 2021. In September, $6.5 million in revenue from red light cameras, supposedly allotted to make streets safer for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians, was instead given to the police.

Museum Workers Say Fair Pay And Job Security Shouldn’t Be A Privilege

In 1930, Adelyn Dohme Breeskin became the Baltimore Museum of Art’s first appointed curator of prints—and the first paid staff curator in the fine arts. A recent BMA exhibition, Adelyn Breeskin: Curating a Legacy, commended her work at the museum, which included helping to secure the Cone Collection and establish the print department. According to curator Laura Albans, Breeskin was born into a wealthy Baltimore family, moved away for school, and later returned as a divorcee with three kids who needed a job. In 1942, when all the men had gone to war, Breeskin became interim director, and then in 1945 became director of the museum until 1962. From the museum’s founding in 1914 until Breeskin’s 1930 hire, curators were typically wealthy volunteers stewarding a collection for the public without pay.

Creating A Safe Haven for Black Trans Youth In Baltimore

In late May, a crowd descended on Central Baltimore’s 6,000 square foot Ynot Lot for a day of free food and entertainment. Local artists like the contagiously candid Lor Choc, the sharp-rapping Fmb Foreign, and decorated Baltimore Club DJ Scottie B took the lot’s stage. Onlookers danced in their respective circles, many holding cloudy, ice cold bottles of water to contend with the sweltering sun. Others occupied shady spots to permanently plop down in. Just outside the Ynot were mobile stations providing confidential STI/HIV testing, as well as COVID-19 vaccines from pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Pfizer. By all accounts, the star that day wasn’t the artists onstage, but the person who facilitated the event: Iya Dammons, founder of Baltimore Safe Haven (BSH), whose leadership was clear from the outset.

Battleground Baltimore: The Path To Police Accountability

Baltimore, MD - The battle to keep Black, brown, and other marginalized people safe from police violence is like a fire that has burned for as long as this country has existed. Hot spots flare up when this country’s hatred for Black and Brown people becomes more apparent, making the heat more intense and the pain more unbearable. It feels like we are in one of those moments where the fire is burning especially strong right now.  This week, a jury found former officer Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of George Floyd. In May of last year, Chauvin was caught on tape kneeling on Floyd’s neck as Floyd begged for his life. We reached out to State Sen. Jill Carter and Del. Gabriel Acevero, two Maryland lawmakers who were instrumental in getting comprehensive policing legislation passed here in Maryland just a few weeks ago.

Will We Stand Up For Black Trans Lives Too?

Last summer, during what some have called the largest social justice uprising in United States history, the lives of Black trans people were ignored. While many rightly raged against the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, few know the names of Black trans people like Kim Wirtz, who have also been murdered by a racist policing and prison system. In Baltimore, trans activists from the LGBTQ organization Baltimore Safe Haven protested, demanding an end to police violence and an end to the erasure of the Black trans community. The Real News’ Eddie Conway talks to activists on the ground in Baltimore about their fight.

Baltimore Is Democratizing The Economy, One Pint At A Time

On your first day working at Taharka Brothers, a majority-Black-owned ice cream maker in Baltimore, you can join the flavor committee and help create flavors like the limited holiday edition Sweet Potato Crumble. Or you can join the social justice committee and vet local organizations to support through ice cream sales, like the Baltimore Action Legal Team. If none of those are to your liking, there are other committees you can join. If you work there for at least 15 months and earn top marks on your most recent performance review, you can become a part-owner of Taharka Brothers, and have not just a say but also a final vote on major business decisions and policies like those performance reviews.

Understanding The Politics Of Urban Apartheid In The United States

Baltimore Maryland is a majority-black but hyper-segregated city. Following the uprising in Baltimore in 2015 in response to the police murder of Freddie Gray, Dr. Lawrence Brown, a public health expert at Morgan University, a historically black university in Baltimore, found that historical context and data were missing from the conversation about what was happening. Thus, he wrote "The Black Butterfly: The Politics of Race and Space in America." In this book, Dr. Brown describes the history of and the players who created the urban apartheid and how Baltimore became a template for many cities across the country. His book, available through Johns Hopkins University, provides the data, language and solutions necessary for the struggle to dismantle systemic racism.

Teachers Union Urges Parents To Boycott School Reopening

When Baltimore City Schools announced last week that 25 schools will reopen next month to increase in-person instruction for high need students, officials promised it could be done safely and with transparency.  The district has received little guidance from state or federal authorities on how to reopen safely, and teachers, who will be required to return to the classroom, say they were blindsided by the announcement. They are now calling attention to problems with the recent reopening of Student Learning Centers (SLC) as an example of their concerns.

Baltimore Teachers Demand ‘Masks, Tests And Plexiglass!’

On Sept. 30, the Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU) held a protest and die-in in front of the Baltimore City Public Schools headquarters in Baltimore City. Diana Desierto, BTU member and speech language pathologist, explained: “I am out here for the National Day of Resistance to make sure that our students, families and staff in Baltimore City are prepared and will be accommodated with all the things they need to return to school safely.  “I’m here to support my students and their families. It’s been a struggle for them and for all of us. Of course we want to go back to school, we just want to go back safely.” 

Leadership Begins At The Bottom

Let’s be clear. A title does not make you a leader. Look at Capitol Hill. Leadership begins in your home. You are the executive, manager, administrator, foot soldier, all wrapped up in one. No President of the United States is responsible for a booming economy. The people are. People make businesses, employ people, produce products and services, and in turn support communities. This ripple effectuates the nation. The President is the ambassador of the nation, and is the moral and ethical leader therein. The true change makers are the boots on the ground that makes the nation work.

Shut Up, History

Awhile back, a friend and I were talking about History and rebellions, and I lamented how the 1871 Paris Commune had failed. My friend, a self-avowed psychic, said, “Yes, history records very few total victories over oppression. That’s because, on this worldly plane, most things are not supposed to work out. It’s all about the trying.” So this will be a short essay on trying. On how, in the late 1960s, two Africa-American men met at the Baltimore chapter of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and tried to build “The Revolution.” And how, for the past six years, I’ve tried to write a book about them.

Defund The Police Movement Can Learn From Corrupt Gun Trace Task Force

“I Got A Monster” is a page turner that’s as hard to put down as it is disturbing. What’s more, it could not be more relevant to our times. Through extensive reporting, authors Baynard Woods and Brandon Soderberg show that repressive police tactics — like throwing civilians into unmarked cars and fabricating and planting evidence — are more than recent national news topics. They have been used for years against Black communities.  Immaculately researched, the authors use court documents, wiretaps, interviews, and body camera footage to recreate the unraveling of one of the greatest police scandals of our lifetime: the corrupt Gun Trace Task Force, or GTTF. 
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