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In the Media: Poe Homes Activism; Baltimore City Schools to Review Officer Training and Selection

A still from the video that went viral of a police officer slapping a young man at a Baltimore City School.
A still from the video that went viral of a police officer slapping a young man at a Baltimore City School.

A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From the Baltimore Sun: Scaled-Back Payment to Law Firm Untangles Money for Freddie Gray’s Fmaily

"The Rawlings-Blake administration is scaling back the amount it would pay lawyers this year to represent the city in the federal investigation of the Baltimore Police Department — part of a compromise that also untangles money promised to Freddie Gray's family.

"The administration will ask the City Council to approve legislation that would pay Washington-based WilmerHale $1.2 million, down from $2 million, to assist city lawyers as the U.S. Department of Justice investigates police policies and practices.

"In a separate bill, the administration will ask the council to authorize the $6.4 million settlement with the family of Gray, whose death last spring after an injury suffered in police custody sparked riots and looting.

"City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young and Vice President Edward Reisinger said they will support the expenditures. Council leaders had opposed the administration's first proposal, which packaged the two payments together in an $8.4 million supplemental budget bill.

"Young said his main problem was that the administration had not fully explained what Wilmer Hale lawyers were being paid to do."

Full Article

From City Paper: No Trivia: Residents, Activists, and Joshua Harris Bang the Drum for Poe Homes

"In Baltimore, a curious kind of apartheid city, the haves and have-nots are often neighbors. And sometimes, those neighbors air their grievances on each other's doorsteps and bring a drumline along to ensure they're heard.

"Consider the frequently ignored Poe Homes community, just a short walk from the University of Maryland BioPark, whose developer, Wexford Science and Technology, was recently given $17.5 million in tax increment financing (TIF) by the City Council.

"The walk from the Poppleton housing project to the BioPark is so short that on Tuesday afternoon, a group of Poe Homes residents, along with local activists and, eventually, a robust drumline, gathered down the street and marched to the front door of one of the BioPark's buildings, in protest of developers getting more money while Poe Homes is continually divested.

"Before the march, around 3 p.m., residents and activists convened at the Poe Homes Community Center where, among others, Joshua Harris, a community activist and Green Party candidate for mayor spoke.

"'We sit here just one block away from massive amounts of wealth. Last spring, our city experienced unrest that was heard around the world,' Harris said. 'And I believe that unrest was caused by juxtapositions between massive amounts of wealth and massive amounts of poverty.'

"Activists say the BioPark, Wexford, and the City Council excluded representatives of Poe Homes, who had requested a 'community benefits agreement' that would have solidified investment in Poe Homes. And according to a Change.org petition tied to the protest, the UMDBioPark has not followed through on 'promises to create jobs and help to address issues of poverty.'”

Full Article

From the Baltimore Sun: Baltimore Schools CEO Will Review Officer Training, Selection After Slapping Incident

"Baltimore schools CEO Gregory Thornton said Monday he will review the training and selection of school police after an officer was filmed slapping a teenager last week at the REACH Partnership school in Clifton Park.

"Thornton met privately with parents and teachers Monday evening at the school to discuss the cellphone video that has raised tensions between school police and the community.

"About two dozen people arrived for the meeting in the school library. The news media were denied entry, and Thornton asked a reporter from The Baltimore Sun to leave. He said the meeting was open only to parents and faculty.

"The video was filmed last Tuesday outside the school. It's unclear what happened before the officer slapped the teenage boy three times and kicked him once.

"The officer has been identified as Anthony C. Spence, 44, of Baltimore. Spence's attorney said that the officer believed the 16-year-old was trespassing and that an altercation occurred when Spence asked the youth to leave.

"Spence has been placed on administrative leave along with a second officer filmed watching the incident. School officials have not named the officers, but Spence's lawyer and other sources identified him."

Full Article