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In the Media: Pugh Wins Democratic Primary for Mayor; One Year Since Baltimore Unrest


A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From the Baltimore Sun: Catherine Pugh defeats Sheila Dixon in Democratic primary of Baltimore mayor's race

"State Sen. Catherine E. Pugh narrowly defeated former Mayor Sheila Dixon in the crowded Democratic primary for Baltimore mayor — a race many called the most important in a generation with the city still recovering from the rioting of last April.

"Pugh, who had twice been a runner-up in citywide races, raised her profile during the unrest that engulfed Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. She spent days and nights at the corner of Pennsylvania and North avenues, where looting and arson broke out, trying to calm the tensions between protesters and police.

"'Nobody gave this campaign a chance,' Pugh said to a cheering crowd at the Harbor Hotel in downtown Baltimore. 'We couldn't even get a campaign manager until February 1.'

Dixon conceded the race soon after Pugh claimed victory.

"'We've got to build on what this campaign stood for,' Dixon said. 'It stood for love of the people of this city.'

"Voters, by a narrow margin, preferred Pugh to Dixon, the former mayor who is beloved in large swaths of West and East Baltimore for her performance in office but dogged by a scandal that forced her from office.

"'We are seeing change come to our city,' said U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who endorsed Pugh. 'We've been through a lot. We are now in the process of transformation.'

"The two front-runners finished well ahead of their 10 other opponents in the Democratic primary. With 99 percent of precincts reporting Wednesday morning, Pugh, with 37 percent of the vote, led by roughly 3,000 votes over Dixon, who had 34 percent of the vote. Lawyer Elizabeth Embry was a distant third, with 12 percent.

"All other Democratic candidates, including businessman David L. Warnock (8 percent), City Councilman Carl Stokes (3 percent), and prominent Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson (2 percent), registered single-digit vote percentages."

Full Article

From the Baltimore SunAt rally, nonprofits present plans to rebuild Baltimore neighborhoods

"Members of more than two dozen community activist groups gathered outside City Hall on Monday to pledge to work together to bring change to troubled Baltimore neighborhoods.

"Derrick Chase, founder of the Coalition for Transformation and Betterment of Baltimore, talked about a plan aimed at 'changing the narrative of Baltimore from dysfunction to function.'

"He later described a four-year plan that calls for organizers to divide the city into grids. Neighborhoods will be separated and ranked according to needs, Chase said, with a block captain designated in each neighborhood. Participating nonprofits will pool resources to assist the neighborhoods.

"The plan was announced at Stand Up Baltimore, a rally outside City Hall a year after the death of Freddie Gray and the ensuing unrest. The anniversary has again brought national media attention to the city.

"The Monday afternoon event featured speakers, seven minutes for each, from the host of organizations. It came one day before Tuesday's primary election."

Full Article

From City Paper: For Westide Elementary, unrest was just one of many challenges

"Spencella Dobson, a volunteer at Westside Elementary School in Baltimore's Penn North community, says that people don't talk nearly enough about the effect that last year's unrest had on the city's children, specifically the impact it had on kids at Westside Elementary.

"'I think one of the main things that people forget about is the trauma,' Dobson says. 'That's what a lot of teachers at Gilmor Elementary, Westside Elementary School—that's what they had to deal with.'

"Children saw their neighborhoods occupied by city and state police, as well as National Guard troops dressed in full gear. But no one ever bothered to explain to kids what was happening, or why, she says. 'There were no psychologists provided to deal with that and have conversations about it. You always hear about teachers becoming the parent, the therapist, everything like that—and that was definitely heightened at that moment…You had children who were acting out. They saw acting out, they saw the guns…and they were really treated like prisoners. For a city with children with already no hope, it gave them even more reason to be like "Well, what am I fighting for? What am I going to school for? I'm already a prisoner in my own home, in my own neighborhood."'

"'What was going on here during the riots?' asks Larry Simmons, the Community School Coordinator at Westside. 'Folks were eating, folks were fellowshipping—weren't really concerned about what was happening outside.'

"He says that even though the school was at the center of much of the riots, they have been somewhat ignored in recovery efforts. 'There was some money that came into Baltimore after the riots to do some programming and supporting young people and their families. We applied for some of that money. We didn't get any of it,' Simmons says. 'A lot of the money that came into the city after the riots went to Sandtown-Winchester and didn't come to Penn North. So, Matthew Henson [Elementary School] got a bunch of money for mental health to deal with the trauma from the riots, but we didn't get anything.'

"A year later, school administrators and families are continuing a fight that started long before Gray's death and the events that followed it. In January, the school board voted to close Westside along with five other schools at the end of the year. Westside had originally been slated to close in 2018 as part of the city's 21st Century Schools Plan."

Full Article

Also from City Paper: Four Events Related to Freddie Gray and racial justice this week