Class Action Lawsuit Against Baltimore Police For Actions During Last Year's #AFROMATION Protest

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By Shannon Wallace for City Paper – Nine Baltimore activists have filed a class action lawsuit against the Baltimore Police Department and the state of Maryland related to last year’s #AFROMATION protest during Artscape. That day, July 16, 2016, 65 protesters were arrested, including a City Paper photo intern, Courtney Hawkins, when the large march, dubbed #AFROMATION, began at Guilford Avenue and Chase Street, moved through Artscape, and then onto I-83. As City Paper reported last year, the group “proceeded onto the highway, locking arms and briefly blocking traffic as they formed a line stretching across one side of the interstate. Police asked the group to move for an ambulance and protesters obliged, moving to the shoulder, only to see two police vans pull up. There was no ambulance. Police then told the group to move off of I-83, and then they were arrested. Some activists said they were essentially ‘trapped’ on the ramp and, while not involved in blocking traffic, they were not allowed to retreat once arrests began. Fifty-five adults and 10 teenagers were arrested.” While protest has hardly stopped since the Baltimore Uprising, #AFROMATION, co-organized by Makayla Gilliam-Price, alumna of City College’s activist group City Bloc, Baltimore Bloc, Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) Baltimore, and others, was a palpable return to sizable in-the-streets protest.

Residents March Through Baltimore City Hall To Demand Affordable Housing Funds

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By Staff of The Real News Network – TAYA GRAHAM: This is Taya Graham reporting for the Real News Network in Baltimore City, Maryland. Baltimore City activists have finally said enough is enough and are demanding that the city give residents money to invest in their community, not wealthy developers. A quick survey of the Baltimore City skyline reveals in stone and mortar what public tax incentive can produce. But the problem with this rising tide of gleaming towers is that the new construction is only widening the gap between the rich and poor, says community activist, Destiny Watford. DESTINY WATFORD: This tool will allow us to keep wealth in our neighborhood. It would allow us to build the things that we need in our neighborhoods because no one else in Baltimore knows what we need more than the people that live there. TAYA GRAHAM: Incentives funded by residents who can’t afford to live in the buildings their tax dollars produced. BONNIE ORRAVENLEE: I’m here because I am pissed off and I am outraged because people are dying in the street every day. TAYA GRAHAM: And who are now demanding change. TARELL ASKEW: We need for our city leaders to be more than leaders at the podium. We need for them to join us and this great cause of building the city into a better place to live and building us all into better people to live in it.

Tent City Leader Blasts Pugh As City Is Moving Homeless Group


By Fern Shen for Baltimore Brew – For Samantha Smith, the last straw came at the gala fundraiser for the homeless that she attended Saturday at the invitation of Mayor Catherine Pugh. Seated near city officials and the $225-a-head VIP donors at the Lyric Theatre for the annual “Evening of Unexpected Delights” homeless benefit, Smith was shocked to hear her name called out from the stage. “I want to thank a good friend of mine, Samantha Smith, who’s with us this evening,” the mayor said. “Samantha is a homeless individual, but she’s also a leader in the homeless community.” Smith said she didn’t like Pugh identifying her as homeless (“belittling me”) to score points with the crowd. “She used me this weekend,” Smith fumed. “After all I’ve done to save your ass and cover your ass. . . We kept asking her for help and we got nothing.” Smith, the leader of the group that had staged a 10-day Tent City homeless protest action in front of City Hall in August, had previously defended Pugh. But she turned on the mayor yesterday, saying Pugh broke the promises she made when she persuaded the group to disband. Participants had agreed to move to a former school building in West Baltimore where, after a two-week assessment period, an appropriate housing plan would be developed for each person. Instead, after 65 days sleeping on cots in the dilapidated school gym, the group is going to be moved to separate men’s and women’s facilities run by Helping Up Mission, a “Christ-based” emergency shelter program in Jonestown.

Man Convicted Of Murder In Case Activists Say Covers Up Police Shooting

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By Baynard Woods for The Real News Network – A Baltimore jury convicted Keith Davis Jr. for the murder of Kevin Jones on Tuesday evening, after only a couple hours of deliberation in a case full of police irregularities. Davis, a focal point of the city’s activist community, was the first person to be shot by Baltimore Police in June 2015, following the in-custody death of Freddie Gray that rocked the city with protests. Davis was initially acquitted of all but one of the charges against him—but that one charge, police said, tied him to Jones’ murder. Police claimed that Davis hijacked an unlicensed cab, driven by a man named Charles Holden, who then pulled up beside a police car, causing the gunman to flee. Two officers chased the man who fled the car on foot and eventually cornered Davis in a garage, where they, and other officers who had since arrived on the scene, fired more than 40 shots at him. At the time, they claimed that Davis fired at them, a claim later retracted. When Davis, who was on his cellphone with his fiancée Kelly Holsey throughout the ordeal, was hit by three bullets he fell to the ground. Police later claimed that they found a gun and Davis’ wallet on top of a refrigerator inside the garage. The police story did not stand up. “To my recollection that don’t look like him to me,” Holden, the primary witness, said in court. Another witness, Martina Washington, who was in the garage when Davis ran in, testified that police had influenced her description of the man who entered the garage.

One Branch’s Closure Sparks A Battle Against “Banking Deserts” In Baltimore


By Fern Shen for Baltimore Brew – There’s not much left of the Bank of America branch that closed at Reisterstown Road Plaza last month, just two still-working ATMs outside the building. Banks are shuttering brick-and-mortar branches across the country as the industry moves online and, looked at that way, 6538 Reisterstown Road in Northwest Baltimore is just one more of them. And yet on a recent afternoon, a long line of people were waiting to use these ATMs – a line that grew longer when one of the machines quit working. Interviewed as they stood on the sidewalk, customers complained that they missed being able to sit at a desk or stand at the counter and talk to a human being. “I would come here to handle my business – not just getting cash – and now they’ve made it complicated and inconvenient,” said Vanessa Palmer, 61, who lives minutes away and said she’s been coming to this bank branch for many years. “You’re outside with all that money,” said Carlotta Taylor, 72, raising the issue that many customers do not feel safe at an open-air ATM. “What happened – they’re closed?” a woman said, rattling the locked door and peering inside. Advocates say the residents of less affluent communities – often lacking Internet access or smart phones or fearful of banking online – still need local bank branches.

Perverse Mobility: From BaltimoreGhetto To HabanaStation


By Cliff DuRand for The Center for Global Justice. Last year’s film hit in Cuba was “HabanaStation”, directed by Ian Padron. It is the touching story of a developing friendship between two boys from very different social backgrounds: one from a materially comfortable family living in Miramar, the other living in a “poor” barrio of Havana. For many foreign views of the film it is a shocking window into economic inequality in Cuba. For Cubans, it is a welcome public acknowledgement of a well-known reality. But the comments I’ve seen on “HabanaStation” overlook what makes it a powerful revolutionary film.

Drug Testing – But Still No Permanent Housing – For Tent City Protesters


By Fern Shen for Baltimore Brew – When Mayor Catherine Pugh persuaded homeless protesters camped outside City Hall to relocate to a building in Sandtown, she promised they would “get permanent housing as quickly as possible.” But more than four weeks later, most of the original Tent City 55 are still sleeping on cots in the so-called Pinderhughes Shelter, a dilapidated former elementary school at 1200 Fremont Avenue. And although Pugh’s agreement with the protesters stated that Pinderhughes would be a “housing first” facility with no drug-testing, all the people living there have been tested for drugs, according to the facility’s director. “If they don’t do a urinalysis, how are they going to know if they are on pain medications or on methadone?” said Samantha Smith, a Tent City participant who was given a paid position by the mayor to run the shelter. Smith said the people at Pinderhughes agreed to get the testing voluntarily because they wanted mental health and other treatment, but that it was not a precondition of receiving housing assistance. “They wanted to change their lives,” Smith said. Housing advocates are skeptical. “I question whether or not they freely chose this or if they were, in effect, coerced,” said Lauren Siegel, a longtime Baltimore housing advocate who teaches at the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

Baltimore To Keep, Clean Defaced Francis Scott Key Statue

Paint covers part of a memorial to Francis Scott Key after it was defaced overnight in downtown Baltimore. (Colin Campbell/The Baltimore Sun via Associated Press)

By Colin Campbell and Sean Welsh for The Baltimore Sun – Mayor Catherine Pugh says she has no plans to remove the Francis Scott Key monument in Bolton Hill that was vandalized before dawn Wednesday and has directed art preservation experts to determine the cost of cleaning it. Exactly 203 years after the Maryland attorney wrote the poem that would later become the national anthem, the city awoke to find the words “Racist Anthem” spray-painted on the Eutaw Place monument and red paint splashed on it. The third stanza of Key’s poem includes a reference accusing the British of encouraging American slaves to join the fight against their masters. City officials said they know of no way to prevent future vandalism, short of catching the person or people responsible. Police don’t have any suspects or surveillance footage of the incident. “Ultimately, it’s going to come down to them being caught and charged,” police spokesman T.J. Smith said. Officers make periodic checks on city property during their patrols, but the department does not plan to place the Key monument under constant police protection, Smith said. “We can’t ensure it’s not going to happen again,” Pugh spokesman Anthony McCarthy said. He said, however, the mayor does not plan to take it down and wants to see it restored.

UB Students Protest Commencement Speaker Betsy DeVos

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By Elizabeth Janney for Baltimore Batch – Students last week were also protesting against DeVos at another campus, this time in Arlington, Virginia, where the education secretary announced plans to roll back Title IX guidelines regarding sexual assault. Under the Obama administration guidelines, schools were told to use the lowest standard of proof, called “preponderance of the evidence,” in prosecuting sexual assault cases. In an address at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School last week, DeVos said colleges must raise the burden of proof in order to protect the rights of both victims and those that they accuse because “the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students.” Said DeVos: “Any perceived offense can become a full-blown Title IX investigation, but if everything is harassment, then nothing is harassment.” Her statement drew criticism for equating the harm done to falsely accused students with the suffering of assault survivors. The University of Baltimore stood by its decision to invite DeVos to speak at the fall commencement, issuing this statement on Facebook…

Baltimore’s Push To Solve Its Affordable Housing Crisis With Community Land Trusts

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters      4.8k     1.0k      Alana Semuels Aug 9, 2015   Half a century after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty, the number of Americans living in slums is rising at an extraordinary pace.  The number of people living in high-poverty areas—defined as census tracts where 40 percent or more of families have income levels below the federal poverty threshold—nearly doubled between 2000 and 2013, to 13.8 million from 7.2 million, according to a new analysis of census data by Paul Jargowsky, a public-policy professor at Rutgers University-Camden and a fellow at The Century Foundation. That’s the highest number of Americans living in high-poverty neighborhoods ever recorded.  The development is worrying, especially since the number of people living in high-poverty areas fell 25 percent, to 7.2 million from 9.6 million, between 1990 and 2000. Back then, concentrated poverty was declining in part because the economy was booming. The Earned Income Tax Credit boosted the take-home pay for many poor families. (Studies have shown the EITC also creates a feeling of social inclusion and citizenship among low-income earners.) The unemployment rate fell as low as 3.8 percent, and the first minimum wage increases in a decade made it easier for families to get by. Programs to disassemble housing projects in big cities such as Chicago and Detroit eradicated some of the most concentrated poverty in the country, Jargowsky told me.  As newly middle-class minorities moved to inner suburbs, though, the mostly white residents of those suburbs moved further away, buying up the McMansions that were being built at a rapid pace. This acceleration of white flight was especially problematic in Rust Belt towns that didn’t experience the economic boom of the mid-2000s. They were watching manufacturing and jobs move overseas. Population Living in High-Poverty Neighborhoods (in millions) Source: 1990 and 2000 Census, 2005-2009 and 2009-2013 ACS/The Century Foundation  Cities such as Detroit saw continued white flight as wealthier residents moved to Oakland County and beyond, further and further away from the city’s core. They brought their tax dollars with them, leaving the city with little tax base, a struggling economy, and no resources to spend on services. More From The Next Economy      The Racial Gaps in America's Recovery     $500 Million Is a Small Price to Pay for Women's Health     A Long Road Home  Low-income residents who wanted to follow the wealthy to the suburbs would have had a difficult time. Many wealthy suburbs passed zoning ordinances that prohibited the construction of affordable-housing units or the construction of apartment buildings in general. Some mandated that houses all be detached, or are a minimum size, which essentially makes them too expensive for low-income families.  “It’s no longer legal to say, ‘We don’t want African-Americans to live here,’ but you can say, ‘I’m going to make sure no one who makes less than two times the median income lives here,’” Jargowsky told me.  (Though some affordable-housing developers try to build in the suburbs, many more, especially those in the “poverty-housing industry,” advocate for building more developments in high-poverty areas to stimulate economic growth. The Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which has a goal of investing in distressed neighborhoods, for example, has spent $14.7 billion building affordable housing units since 1980.)  Some of the cities where poverty is the most concentrated are in the Midwest and Northeast, where tens of thousands of people have headed to suburbs, and the region itself is shrinking in population. In Syracuse, New York, for example, 65 percent of the black population lived in high-poverty areas in 2013, up from 43 percent of the black population in 2000, Jargowsky found. In Detroit, 58 percent of the black population lived in areas of concentrated poverty in 2013, up from 17 percent in 2000. And in Milwaukee, 43 percent of the Latino population lived in areas of concentrated poverty in 2013, up from 5 percent in 2000.  The number of high-poverty census tracts is also growing in many of these cities. In Detroit, the number of such tracts tripled to 184, from 51 between 2000 and 2013, as concentrated poverty spread to inner suburbs. In Syracuse, the number of high-poverty census tracts grew to 30 from 12.  Federal dollars have sometimes been used in ways that increase the concentration of poverty. Most affordable housing is built with low-income housing tax credits, which are distributed by the states. States assign the tax credits through a process in which they weigh a number of different factors including the location of proposed developments. Many states have favored projects in low-income areas, a practice that was the recent subject of a Supreme Court case known as Inclusive Communities. The Inclusive Communities Project argued, in the case, that the way Texas allocated tax credits was discriminatory, since 93 percent of tax credit units in Dallas are located in census tracts that are more than 50 percent minority, and are predominantly poor. The Supreme Court agreed in June, allowing groups to bring lawsuits about such segregation.  Finally, Housing Choice Vouchers, also known as Section 8, are meant to give poor families better options about where they live, but are instead confining the poor to the few neighborhoods where landlords will accept the voucher.  All of these developments have increased the racial concentration of poverty, especially in mid-sized American cities.  “These policies build a durable architecture of segregation that ensures that racial segregation and the concentration of poverty is entrenched for years to come,” Jargowsky writes. Highest Black Concentration of Poverty Sources: 2000 Census, 2005-2009 and 2009-2013 ACS/The Century Foundation  Some recent developments, including the Supreme Court decision and a new HUD rule that requires regions to think more carefully about segregation, are positive signs. But Jargowsky says deeper policy prescriptions are needed to reduce these depressing trends in concentrated poverty. First, he says, federal and state governments must ensure that new suburban developments aren’t built more quickly than the metropolitan region is growing, so that such developments don’t create a population vacuum in cities and inner suburbs. Second, every city and town must ensure that new housing construction reflects the income distribution of the metropolitan area, he said, so that more housing is available to people of all incomes in different parts of town.  “If we are serious about breaking down spatial inequality,” Jargowsky writes, “We have to overcome our political gridlock and chart a new course toward a more geographically inclusive society.”  That’s important for the future of our cities, but also for our nation, Jargowsky said. His research shows that poor children are more likely to live in high-poverty areas than are poor adults—28 percent of poor black children live in high-poverty areas, for example, compared to 24 percent of poor black adults. Overall, 16.5 percent of poor children live in high-poverty areas, compared to 13.8 percent of poor adults.  A child who grows up in a high-poverty area is likely to be poor when he grows up. Research out this year from Harvard shows that children who moved from poor areas to more affluent areas had higher incomes and better educational achievements than those who stayed in poor areas. Without dramatic changes, today’s children who live in high-poverty areas are going to grow up to be poor, too.      Jump to Comments   About the Author      Alana Semuels is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was previously a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.         Twitter   by Taboola Sponsored Links AROUND THE WEB 8 Signs You May Have AfibWebMD 19 Common Habits That Will Destroy TeethWedMD 8 Bags Every Man Should Own Macy's Top 20 Worst Snacks to Avoid at All CostsWorld Lifestyle Most Popular      The Coddling of the American Mind         Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt      Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.     Continue Reading     When Success Leads to Failure         Jessica Lahey      I’ve known the mother sitting in front of me at this parent-teacher conference for years, and we have been through a lot together. I have taught three of her children, and I like to think we’ve even become friends during our time together. She’s a conscientious mother who obviously loves her children with all of her heart. I’ve always been honest with her about their strengths and weaknesses, and I think she trusts me to tell her the truth. But when she hits me with the concern that’s been bothering her for a while, all I can do is nod, and stall for time.      “Marianna’s grades are fine; I’m not worried about that, but she just doesn’t seem to love learning anymore.”     Continue Reading     A Matter of Black Lives         Jeffrey Goldberg      In late april of 1994, a 9-year-old African American boy from the broken-down Central City neighborhood of New Orleans wrote a letter to President Bill Clinton, asking him to bring about an end to the violence that was devastating his city.      “Dear Mr. Clinton,” James Darby began. “I want you to stop the killing in the city. People is dead and I think that somebody might kill me. So would you please stop the people from deading. I’m asking you nicely to stop it. I know you can do it. Do it. I now you could.” He signed the letter, “Your friend, James.”      Ten days later, on May 8, Mother’s Day, Darby was visiting A. L. Davis Park with several members of his family. The park, named after Abraham Lincoln Davis, the first African American to sit on the New Orleans city council, is a compact rectangle of basketball courts and grass patches situated directly across the street from a public-housing complex.     Continue Reading     With Donald Trump's Rise, Fox News Reaps What It Sows         Conor Friedersdorf      Fox News’ coverage of Donald Trump’s campaign has resembled the treatment that the real estate tycoon and reality TV star receives in “the mainstream media.” It is unlike the network’s coverage of unqualified populist favorites from past election cycles, like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain. And populists are taking notice.      Last week’s debate is a fine illustration.      Immediately after the candidates left the stage in Cleveland, Ohio, Fox News moderator and anchor Megyn Kelly threw the network’s coverage over to pollster Frank Luntz, who stood in a room with a small group of voters gathered to offer their impressions. “Megyn, we’re about to make some news tonight,” he said as he turned to the panel. His meaning quickly became apparent: Under questioning, most of the assembled voters revealed that they felt unfavorably about Trump’s performance.     Continue Reading     That’s Not Funny!         Caitlin Flanagan      Three comics sat around a café table in the chilly atrium of the Minneapolis Convention Center, talking about how to create the cleanest possible set. “Don’t do what’s in your gut,” Zoltan Kaszas said. “Better safe than sorry,” Chinedu Unaka offered. Feraz Ozel mused about the first time he’d ever done stand-up: three minutes on giving his girlfriend herpes and banging his grandma. That was out.      This was not a case of professionals approaching a technical problem as an intellectual exercise. Money was riding on the answer. They had come to Minneapolis in the middle of a brutal winter for the annual convention of the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA), to sell themselves and their comedy on the college circuit. Representatives of more than 350 colleges had come as well, to book comics, musicians, sword swallowers, unicyclists, magicians, hypnotists, slam poets, and every kind of boat act, inspirational speaker, and one-trick pony you could imagine for the next academic year.     Continue Reading     Why Iran’s Anti-Semitism Matters         Jeffrey Goldberg      A few days ago, I spoke with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry about the politics of the Iran deal (you can find the full interview here), and at one point in our conversation I put to Kerry what I thought was—to be honest—something of a gimme question: “Do you believe that Iranian leaders sincerely seek the elimination of the Jewish state?”      Kerry responded provocatively—provocatively, that is, if you understand Iranian leaders, and in particular the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the way I understand them: as people theologically committed to the destruction of Israel. Quotes such as this one from Khamenei help lead me to this conclusion: “This barbaric, wolflike, and infanticidal regime of Israel which spares no crime has no cure but to be annihilated.” The supreme leader does not specialize in nuance. (Here is a long list of statements made by Iranian leaders concerning their desire to bring about an end to Jewish sovereignty in any part of the ancestral Jewish homeland.)     Continue Reading     Life's Stories         Julie Beck      In Paul Murray's novel Skippy Dies, there’s a point where the main character, Howard, has an existential crisis.“‘It’s just not how I expected my life would be,'" he says.      “‘What did you expect?’” a friend responds.      “Howard ponders this. ‘I suppose—this sounds stupid, but I suppose I thought there’d be more of a narrative arc.’”      But it's not stupid at all. Though perhaps the facts of someone’s life, presented end to end, wouldn't much resemble a narrative to the outside observer, the way people choose to tell the stories of their lives, to others and—crucially—to themselves, almost always does have a narrative arc. In telling the story of how you became who you are, and of who you're on your way to becoming, the story itself becomes a part of who you are.     Continue Reading     What the Iran-Deal Debate Is Like in Iran         Abbas Milani and Michael McFaul      The nuclear deal with Iran has sparked a vigorous debate not only in the United States, but in Iran as well. The discussion of the agreement among Iranians at times echoes the American discussion, but is also much deeper and wider. Reports in Iranian media, as well as our own correspondence and conversations with dozens of Iranians, both in the country and in exile, reveal a public dialogue that stretches beyond the details of the agreement to include the very future of Iran. And it seems that everyone from the supreme leader to the Iranian American executive in Silicon Valley, from the taxi driver in Isfahan to the dissident from Evin Prison, is engaged. The coalitions for and against the deal tend to correlate closely with those for and against internal political reform and normalized relations with the West.     Continue Reading     Could the Internet Age See Another David Foster Wallace?         Megan Garber      Here is an extremely incomplete list of things I would like to know David Foster Wallace’s thoughts on:      selfie sticks     man buns     farmers’ markets     the Starbucks S’mores Frappuccino®     The League     professional football     college football     trigger warnings     Ferguson     media coverage of Ferguson     Netflix     Breaking Bad     Uber     Mars One     Donald Trump     Facebook     the “personal brand”     Ashley Madison     Instagram     Snapchat     the film The End of the Tour      I would especially love to know his thoughts on that last one, since the movie, being pretty much a filmic love letter to the late author, could well fall into the category of Praise That Made David Foster Wallace Itchy and Squirmy. The conventional wisdom about Wallace—an idea put forth during the nascent days of his fame, and reiterated in a good portion of the approximately 512,246 essays and novels and Tumblr posts that came as that fame crystallized into something closer to canonization—is that Wallace, the person, was extremely ambivalent about Wallace, the persona. He wanted, on the one hand, to join the ranks of DeLillo and Pynchon and Updike (though the latter he famously denigrated as “just a penis with a thesaurus”). But the fame that accompanied literary achievement during the time he was doing all his achieving made him, he insisted, “want to become a recluse.” There’s being celebrated, and then there’s celebrity. Celebrity, in all its tentacular forms, was one of the things Wallace’s work most consistently mocked.     Continue Reading     How White Users Made Heroin a Public-Health Problem         Andrew Cohen      This piece was reported through The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that covers the U.S. criminal-justice system.      Heroin use and abuse in America has dramatically increased over the past decade.  Between 2006 and 2013, federal records reveal that the number of first-time heroin users doubled from 90,000 to 169,000. Some of those users, no doubt, already are gone. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced last month that the rate of deadly heroin overdoses nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013.      These troubling figures, and a spate of more recent stories and daunting statistics, have prompted officials across the country to implement bold new policies and practices designed to reduce the harm of heroin use. Although there has been some push to enhance criminal sanctions to combat the surge, much of the institutional reaction to the renewed popularity of the drug has sounded in the realm of medicine, not law.     Continue Reading     The Wanderlust of #Vanlife         Sam Price-Waldman      How an Instagram hashtag inspired a movement     Watch Video     The Best 71-Second Animation You'll Watch Today         Chris Heller      A rock monster tries to save a village from destruction.     Watch Video     The Creator of The Wire Explains the War on Drugs' Effect on Police         Nadine Ajaka      David Simon on America's failed policies and the decline of law enforcement     Watch Video  Subscribe  Get 10 issues a year and save 65% off the cover price. 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By Kevon Paynter for Yes! Magazine – Men and women huddle inside the St. John’s United Methodist Church in central Baltimore. The air conditioning in the church is inefficient on a day when the outside temperature is over 100 degrees. Cold water bottles get distributed, along with paper towels to wipe off sweat. Many of these people are homeless or formerly homeless. Others are longtime residents struggling to afford their rent, and they are here to advocate for an affordable housing solution that could bring relief as well as fix Baltimore’s blight. They want Mayor Catherine Pugh to dedicate $40 million in the upcoming budget to fund community land trusts. Across the U.S., cities struggle with expanding income inequality and tight housing markets that drive up rent. These factors result in an extreme shortage of affordable housing. For every 100 low-income renters, there are 31 affordable units, according to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition. Over the years, solutions have emerged. In Burlington, Vermont, and Boston, for example, community ownership of land through nonprofit community land trusts has had decades of success turning vacant lots into affordable housing.

Baltimore Removes Confederate Monuments In Face Of Protests

Stonewall Jackson being removed

By Kevin Zeese for Popular Resistance. Baltimore, MD – In the dark of the night, Baltimore City government removed four Confederate monuments. The removal began at 11:30 pm on August 15 and was completed at 5:30 am. Protests had been held against the monuments and more protests were being planned. Two days ago activists created a statue to replace General Robert E. Lee – Madre Luz (Mother Light), a pregnant woman standing with her fist in the air. In addition, another statue, the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument, had red paint sprayed all over it. We are currently out of town, but last night we organized so that a protest planned for today would be live streamed on Popular Resistance. Activists were going to build on the success in Durham, NC and pull down a Confederate monument. We awoke this morning to find the job had been done last night. Protests had been held against the monuments and more were being planned. Two days ago activists created a statute to replace General Robert E. Lee – Madre Luz (Mother Light), a pregnant women standing with her fist in the air. In addition, another statute, the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument, had red paint sprayed all over it.We are out of town, but last night we organized to have a protest planned for today to be live streamed as activists were going to build on the success in Durham, NC and pull down a Confederate monument. When we started working at 6 AM this morning we awoke to find the job had been done last night.

Organizers Say Quaint Baltimore Seafood Business Masks Shocking Labor Abuses

Demonstration at the labor department offices in Lampung, Indonesia in 2015. (IUF)

By Bruce Vail for In These Times – Phillips Seafood is a Baltimore-based company that trades on its historic connections to the Chesapeake Bay blue crab fishery. The signature dish at its restaurants is the famed Maryland-style crab cake, and its dining rooms feature models of antique fishing boats and romanticized images of the bay watermen culture that is fading fast. But organizers say it’s mostly fake—a cover story for a rapacious, globalized business that preys on poor Indonesian women to extract rich profits for its U.S. owners. That’s the story being told by a multinational federation of labor organizations committed to helping those Indonesian workers, according to Hidayat Greenfield, the Asia-Pacific regional secretary of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF). A loose alliance of unions in 129 countries around the world, the IUF is spreading the word to Phillips’ U.S. customers about the company’s human rights abuses in Indonesia. Last month, representatives of the IUF’s U.S. affiliate, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, were in Ocean City, Md. handing out informational pamphlets at a Phillips restaurant where the company is currently enjoying its seasonal bonanza of business from beachgoers at the resort town.

Attorney For Woman In Drug Case Says Body-Camera Footage Shows Officers Planting Drugs

Members of the Ferguson Police Department wear body cameras during a rally on Aug. 30, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. Police in Ferguson were outfitted with cameras as a reaction to protests over the shooting death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed teenager. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

By Kevin Rector for The Baltimore Sun – For the second time in as many weeks, Baltimore police body-camera video has emerged showing what defense attorneys say is officers planting drugs on a criminal defendant. Josh Insley, a local defense attorney, released the footage Tuesday, a day after the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office dropped all charges against his client based on concerns raised by the video. Insley said he believes the video shows officers “engage in what appears to be a staged recovery of narcotics,” and that he will be pursuing legal action against the police department. The video, which represents the latest in a string of controversial incidents for a police department confronting historic violent crime, is under investigation, police said. Insley’s client, Shamere Collins, 35, was arrested on Nov. 29, 2016 after police stopped her vehicle after observing a passenger conducting what officers believed was a drug deal, according to case records. After stopping the vehicle, police said they smelled marijuana, searched the car, and recovered heroin and marijuana. Charges were filed against Collins and the passenger. “Those drugs were not in that car when we were pulled out, the state dismissed the case against me and my attorneys are reviewing the tapes to see what steps to take next,” Collins said in a statement.

Baltimore Residents Protest Tough On Crime, Mandatory Sentencing Strategy

Gov. Bruce Rauner recently vetoed a bill with the potential to reduce prison recidivism. (Hans Neleman / Getty Images)

By Stephen Janis for The Real News Network – STEPHEN JANIS: Emotions boiled over at Baltimore City Hall Tuesday after testimony from citizens who oppose a new gun law that would impose mandatory minimum sentences was delayed for hours. It was an outburst that exemplified the conflict between City Hall and many residents how to fight a surging crime rate. The law proposed last week by the mayor would impose a mandatory one-year sentence on anyone found in possession of a gun near a school, church, or public building. CATHERINE PUGH: Gun offenders in Baltimore City know, or at least they think they will not face significant amount of jail time for their offense. We believe that it is time for us to put some stronger measures in place, especially as it relates to the possession of illegal guns and to limit judicial discretion in suspending sentences for those who illegally possess guns in Baltimore City. STEPHEN JANIS: Residents say more law enforcement is not the answer. Even a mother of shooting victims. VANESSA SIMS: I was 36 weeks pregnant, 34 weeks pregnant with Chance, and I got shot in my back. Chance was shot in his shoulder within the womb and it came across his chest and came out his elbow. The bullet came out my stomach.

National Housing Crisis Becomes Focus Of Protest

By Owen Silverman Andrews for Medium – Turning out in force despite the sweltering July heat in East Baltimore, residents of Douglass Homes public housing gathered at the Orleans Branch Library to speak out against foul play and deteriorating conditions. “We are demanding an election,” said Baltimore City Resident Advisory Board (RAB) Delegate Rev. Annie Chambers. “This is the first action, where we’re deciding how we’re gonna push back.” Rev. Chambers, second from left, reads from restrictive new regulations approved by the RAB. Rev. Chambers of the Green Party, who was elected to the citywide advisory body for public housing on March 30, decried her opponent’s foul play in her own election, as well as the appointment by the Housing Authority of Baltimore City of the traditionally elected Douglass Homes Tenants Council President position, and the generally deteriorating conditions families are being subjected to. Douglass Homes residents “haven’t gotten any tenant participation funds, we don’t have any playgrounds, or programs. We’ve missed out on so much by not having a duly elected Tenant Council,” she added as she convened the group of approximately 40 public housing residents and supporters in the Library’s meeting room.