Five days after Freddie Gray’s death, the Baltimore Sun (4/24/15) published on its website an interactive slideshow on his arrest, which it updated later that month as the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) added information. Audiences could click through a timeline of details of Gray’s long April 12, 2015, ride in a Baltimore police van, during which police reportedly made six stops before officers said they discovered their prisoner was unconscious. (Gray died on April 19, after a week in a coma.) The slideshow was almost entirely sourced from the statements given by BPD leaders during press conferences, without independent corroboration. In a new book, They Killed Freddie Gray: The Anatomy of a Police Brutality Cover-Up, I reveal extensive evidence that undermines most of what the Sun reported in its slideshow timeline. My book is sourced to discovery evidence from the prosecution of six officers that was never presented in court, internal affairs investigation files and more.
In a large yet intimate gathering seated around the projector in the middle of Baltimore’s NoMüNoMü gallery on Aug. 18, the Black Alliance for Peace- Baltimore and Malaya Baltimore held a discussion “From the Philippines to Baltimore: The Indo-Pacific Command, Neocolonialism, and You!” The event was part of BAP- Baltimore’s “Baltimore Summer School” series. Information handed out at the start of the event explained the exploitative nature of Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). APEC is a “neoliberal scheme called ‘free trade’ that makes it easy for… transnational corporations … by eliminating labor and environmental protections.”
Jake Urtes and Jonah Gallagher were getting ready to play a show in Brooklyn when they found out they had lost their jobs. The pair had taken the week off work for a short tour with their band, Shift Meal. To everyone’s surprise, their boss and owner of Common Ground Bakery Cafe, a long-established and beloved coffee shop in Baltimore’s Hampden neighborhood, had abruptly shut down the shop. On the Common Ground internal Slack channel, workers read owner Michael Krupp’s brief message to all staff informing them that they wouldn’t need to come to work the next day, Monday, July 3.
Baltimore, MD—Do you know about the back story behind the U.S., U.K., and USSR signing the “Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space, and Under Water” in 1963? It is a very dramatic tale, involving illegal arrests in international waters, switching missions from one ship to another, children tasting nuclear fallout as it came down like snow—and it all began with Hiroshima. The atomic bomb which the U.S. dropped on that Japanese city on Aug. 6, 1945, caused Albert Bigelow to leave his military career as a Navy captain just before his date of retirement.
Baltimore, Maryland - Despite the cold weather, dozens of workers and their supporters picketed outside the Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Baltimore in February, as they had been doing—and have continued to do—for months. The workers are demanding better wages and working conditions, which they say they are owed on principle—but also because of the heavy public subsidies their employer receives. Andre Eldridge Jr., who has worked at the Marriott Waterfront since 2017, said that many of his colleagues live paycheck to paycheck and have to take on second jobs to make ends meet. “That’s just crazy,” he told The Real News.
Baltimore, Maryland - For Baltimore-based childbirth educator and doula Ashlee Jaye Johnson, finding the right working space was crucial to give her startup the consistent effort it needed. It’s not so easy to find that with a child under 3 years old. “It would have been really expensive to send my child to a daycare or something like that,” Jaye Johnson says. The average cost of full time childcare for an infant in Baltimore City is upwards of $200 a week or $10,300 a year, according to the Maryland Family Network. “And also I just prefer for her to be closer to me.” But Jaye Johnson was already finding traction for her business, Birth Class in a Box.
From 2020 to 2022, educators faced the unprecedented circumstances of a pandemic, stagnated wages, and the hardships of virtual learning. Rising to meet these challenges put teachers on a strong footing in our ongoing fight for pay that is commensurate with our work. We have done what was asked of us and more, we have accomplished what seemed impossible and continue to work hard to make up for the learning that was lost during the pandemic—and, surely, that is worth the extra money. However, the negotiations between the teachers, Baltimore County, and the Board of Education have been plagued by bad faith, botched rollouts of measures secured in previous bargaining sessions, and confusion to the point that many of our staff simply do not know what they are supposed to make, let alone how valuable they are.
There was a time in the last century when we, quite foolishly, believed incineration to be a superior means of waste disposal than landfills. And, for decades, many of America's most disadvantaged have been paying for those decisions with with their lifespans. South Baltimore's Curtis Bay neighborhood, for example, is home to two medical waste incinerators and an open-air coal mine. It's ranked in the 95th percentile for hazardous waste and boasts among the highest rates of asthma and lung disease in the entire country. The city's largest trash incinerator is the Wheelabrator–BRESCO, which burns through 2,250 tons of garbage a day. It has been in operation since the 1970s, belching out everything from mercury and lead to hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, and chromium into the six surrounding working-class neighborhoods and the people who live there.
Baltimore, Maryland - Keith Davis, Jr. is free after an ordeal which began when he was shot by Baltimore, Maryland police on June 7, 2015. The police claimed to be looking for a robbery suspect and chased Davis into a garage where they fired 44 shots, three of which struck him. The robbery victim testified that Davis was not the perpetrator who attacked him, but the police charged Davis with another crime, a murder which took place in a different part of the city. They did this despite evidence showing he was also innocent of that charge as well. Five trials resulted in either hung juries or judges overturning verdicts. Davis was scheduled to be tried yet again but newly elected State Attorney Ivan Bates dropped all charges against him on January 13, 2023. No one knows how many Black men are like Davis, charged and most often convicted wrongfully due to police and prosecutorial misconduct.
Baltimore, Maryland - Sonia Eaddy never lost faith that she would be able to save her home at 319 North Carrollton Ave. in the Poppleton neighborhood of West Baltimore. Like they have done to many predominantly-Black neighborhoods, developers have targeted Poppleton for years. Over the past decade, the city used eminent domain to evict residents and raze their houses, resulting in the displacement of longtime residents. But last year, Eaddy, who is a third-generation resident of Poppleton, was able to mobilize a citywide coalition that staged rallies, packed public hearings, and collected over 5,000 signatures to save homes like hers from destruction. Even after most of Eaddy’s neighbors were forced out of their homes, after surrounding blocks were demolished, and after she exhausted legal appeals, she never stopped fighting.
Today will be the first installment of our series called “Tax Broke”. It’s a five-year exploration of our hometown Baltimore’s policy of doling out tax breaks to developers to stimulate growth. And the centerpiece of the work is a documentary by the same name, which we have screened and we will publish next year. The essence of our findings is that the city of Baltimore has used a variety of tax breaks intended to stimulate growth, but has done far less to track their effectiveness or make the process transparent to account for them. We also found that this idea has primarily benefited wealthy neighborhoods while leaving poorer communities neglected. It has, in a sense, heightened the inequality of an already unequal city. But our 60-minute film only scratches the surface of this topic, but one important underlying question which our film raises is ultimately, how to build affordable housing as efficiently and fairly as possible.
How Private Developers Profited From Tax Subsidies In Baltimore Intended To Revitalize Poor Neighborhoods
For 50 years, Baltimore city officials have trumpeted the use of tax subsidies for private developers as a way to catalyze economic development. As more and more public funds have gone into the pockets of the rich, the city’s prospects have only worsened. Hundreds of thousands of residents have left or been pushed out of the city, and numerous businesses have followed suit. In their new documentary, ‘Tax Broke,’ TRNN reporters Taya Graham and Stephen Janis team up with veteran Baltimore reporter Jayne Miller to tell the story of how capital has fed parasitically on taxpayer money for half a century. Stephen and Jayne join Rattling the Bars to share what their reporting in ‘Tax Broke’ uncovered.
Baltimore, Maryland – Students at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and community members in Baltimore protested against the creation of a private university police force by disrupting two town hall meetings on September 22 and September 29, the first of which led to some antagonism with JHU’s VP of public safety, Branville Bard. The creation of a university police force – the Johns Hopkins Police Department (JHPD) – was postponed for two years in response to the anti-police brutality protests of 2020. Now the university is fast-tracking the process with minimal input from students or the community, despite active opposition going back to 2019 when several anti-JHPD activists were arrested for occupying a university building for around a month.
Employees of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library system have announced their intention to unionize, citing better pay, benefits for all, and greater employee input into working conditions as their chief motivations. Seeking voluntary recognition from Pratt leadership, Pratt Workers United hopes to join AFSCME Council 67, where workers from Walters Art Museum and Baltimore Museum of Art are also seeking representation. TRNN Editor-in-Chief Maximillian Alvarez interviews Pratt Workers United organizers Marti Dirscheri and Antoinette Wilson on the unionization campaign.
The urban heat island effect emerges when the temperature in a metropolitan area is significantly hotter than in surrounding areas. Heat islands are largely a result of urban development, where materials like concrete and asphalt replace natural vegetation. In a city’s concrete jungle, materials found in buildings, roads, and sidewalks absorb the sun’s heat and emit it back into the air, raising the surrounding surface and ambient temperatures. Waste heat generated from vehicles, industrial facilities, and other human sources also add to the higher temperatures, leading to greater emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gasses. Urban heat islands pose a serious public health threat to those living in these zones―often people of color, low-income communities, and vulnerable age groups.