In the Media: Inmate Initiative for Drug Treatment to End; Anti-Racist Sculpture in Wyman Park
A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.
From The Baltimore Sun: Initiative That Has Released Inmates Early into Drug Treatment Set to End This Weekend
"A five-year-old initiative that has helped hundreds of people leave Maryland prisons early and enter drug treatment is set to end this weekend, even as state and federal officials push for similar options to limit incarceration.
"Started as a partnership between the state correctional system and Baltimore nonprofits, the Public Safety Compact uses money saved on incarceration costs to help parolees find jobs and stay sober. Many agree that it has achieved results: lowering recidivism while saving taxpayer dollars.
"But state officials say they discovered this year that the arrangement runs afoul of state procurement guidelines. They have decided not to extend a contract between the corrections department and the nonprofit Safe and Sound Campaign, which administers the program. The contract ends Saturday.
"'For me, it's baffling because it's great government,' said Baltimore resident Baye Parker, 34, who was released last year from a drug sentence and says he turned his life around with the program's help. 'I don't understand why you would try to break something that's working.'”
From The Washington Post: FBI Spy Planes Used Thermal Imaging Tech in Flights Over Baltimore After Freddie Gray Unrest
"In days after Baltimore burned with unrest over Freddie Gray's death in police custody, two FBI surveillance planes circled low above the city. But they weren't using normal cameras to capture activities on the ground.
"Instead, the planes used a system with sophisticated thermal imaging and night vision capabilities, according to newly released FBI and Federal Aviation Authority documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through a Freedom of Information Act request. And the law enforcement agency held onto the videos it took during the flights.
"The new details raise concerns among privacy advocates who warn that advances in surveillance technology are being quietly deployed domestically without public debate and relying on legal arguments that don't account for new capabilities.
"'This is a dynamic we see again and again when it comes to advances in surveillance,' Nathan Wessler, an ACLU staff attorney, told the Post. 'By the time details leak out, programs are firmly entrenched and it's all but impossible to roll them back — and very hard to put in place restrictions and oversight.'
"The planes used in the Baltimore flights, reported on by The Post shortly after they occurred, were hidden behind shell companies. A later investigation by the Associated Press revealed the agency was operating a small fleet of similar spy planes around the country, all using front companies.
"The government argues that such secrecy is necessary to protect the aircraft and pilots — and avoid alerting the subjects of ongoing investigations to the flights."
From City Paper: Artist-Activists Place Anti-Racist Sculpture in Front of Baltimore Lee-Jackson Monument
"This evening [October 29] around 7 p.m., a pickup truck carrying a large sculpture, approximately 10 feet tall, of a black woman with a pregnant belly, fist raised, parked on Art Museum Drive and a group of 10, including artist Pablo Machioli and activist Owen Silverman Andrews, placed it in front of the Lee-Jackson Memorial in Wyman Park. Once the sculpture was propped up, it was unwrapped and flowers and candles were placed at its base and the group took turns writing messages on the base in marker.
"Silverman Andrews made some brief statements about why this monument was specifically chosen, noting that it depicts two generals and is "meant to induce fear" and represent "white power." He added that it was not created following the war but in 1948, many years after the war, and is quite separate from monuments built to honor the fallen and defeated soldiers of the Confederacy. It was also chosen, Machioli explained, because of its proximity to the Baltimore Museum of Art and Silverman Andrews added that in part, it was a way to call attention to how often the city arts funding goes to white artists instead of artists of color.
"City Paper first heard about plans for such an action back in July at a West Family gathering for the second anniversary of Tyrone West's death in the custody of the police. There, Silverman Andrews mentioned to City Paper his plans to potentially replace the Lee-Jackson Monument and revealed a small sketch which depicted Harriet Tubman hand in the air, gripping a brick. This plan began following "the Charleston terrorist attack on an African-American church," in June, Silverman Andrews told City Paper tonight. Machioli—whose hand-shaped signs made appearances during the Freddie Gray protests and who painted one of the protest murals in Sandtown—was introduced to Silverman Andrews through a mutual friend and the two began planning the action "to create attention" surrounding issues related to white supremacy, racism in art, and the Baltimore Uprising."
From The Baltimore Sun: Charges Against City Hall Protestors Dropped
"Charges were dropped on Thursday against 16 protesters arrested during an hours-long demonstration at City Hall two weeks ago, a spokeswoman with the state's attorney's office said.
"'All charges for the protesters at City Hall were abated by arrest,' said Tammy Brown, a spokeswoman for State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby's office in a statement. 'The State's Attorney's Office supports the actions of the Baltimore Police Department to remove these young people to control the situation but under these circumstances believes the arrest in and of itself was sufficient.'"