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In the Media: Baltimore City Hall Sit-In; Ben Jealous on Police Reform

Protestors at City Hall on Wednesday evening.
Protestors at City Hall on Wednesday evening.

A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From The Baltimore Sun: How the Baltimore City Hall Sit-In Played Out, From Start to Finish

"Baltimore police arrested more than a dozen demonstrators at City Hall before dawn Thursday, following an hours-long sit-in protest in the Council Chambers balcony over policing tactics and the proposed appointment of Kevin Davis as permanent commissioner.

"Sixteen activists, including several juveniles, were arrested on trespassing charges and escorted in handcuffs into waiting patrol cars and transport vans.

"The incident, which threatened to overshadow a council committee's approval of the Davis appointment, underscored the rift between activists and police that has grown since Freddie Gray's death in April from a spine injury suffered while in police custody.

"It also tested the line that Davis has sought to draw between acceptable protests and illegal actions since his first day as interim police commissioner in July. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake fired his predecessor, Anthony W. Batts, over concerns that his handling of the April unrest had become a distraction.

"Davis said he was willing to engage in a dialogue with the protesters, who have crafted a list of demands directing how the city and police handle protests. But he said he considers some demands — such as one that asks police to be 'more tolerant of minor lawbreaking' like throwing water bottles — 'absolutely unreasonable' and not something he will budge on.

"At Wednesday's hearing, Councilman William "Pete" Welch, chair of the executive appointments committee, warned that he would 'not tolerate demonstrations.'

"The hearing was to include time for public comments, and the coalition of activists planned to take part. But the activists didn't want to be restricted by the council's three-minute time limit and came prepared with a longer statement that would be read aloud by one of them and echoed by the others.

"As testimony was winding down about 8:30 p.m. and committee members were preparing to vote, protesters stood up and began reading a statement, calling on Davis and Rawlings-Blake to acknowledge a list of demands that several activist organizations had published online earlier in the week.

"The coalition wants a ban on military-style police equipment such as armored vehicles and rubber bullets, and for 'riot gear' to be used only as a last resort for officer safety. The coalition also wants police officers to wear badges and name tags at all times, and is calling for police to respect several locations named by the group as 'safe houses' for protesters.

"The committee voted — three for Davis' approval, one against and one abstention — and City Hall swiftly emptied, except for about 30 protesters who remained in the balcony."

Full Article

From The Real News Network: Shutdown: Baltimore Youth Take Over City Hall


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From The Baltimore Sun: Jealous to Unveil Baltimore Police Reform Plan. First Step: Fire Bad Cops

"Former NAACP President Ben Jealous and a coalition of community organizations say they plan to release a six-point plan on Friday to improve policing in Baltimore that includes the firing of "corrupt" officers and the removal of gag orders from police misconduct settlements.

"The proposal, which comes as the City Council decides whether to make the appointment of interim Police Commissioner Kevin Davis permanent, is the first released by a national civil rights leader since the death of Freddie Gray in April and the unrest that followed.

"Jealous, who recently moved to Baltimore, said the plan was created with input from the Campaign for Justice, Safety and Jobs, a coalition of 25 community, faith and civil rights organizations in the city.

"He is calling on the city to distribute body cameras to all police officers within one year, to make the video available to the public, and to train every officer in 'de-escalation techniques.'"

Full Article

From The AFRO American: Interview with Ben Jealous


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