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In the Media: Grassroots Effort Takes Stance on Toy Guns; Carla Hayden Nomination Stuck in Senate


A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From the Baltimore Sun: Grass-roots effort takes a stance against toy guns

"The guns were only toys, but seeing neighborhood kids playing with them last week didn't sit well with Sandtown-Winchester resident Dominic Nell.

"'They said, 'Pow pow pow! Everybody's killing everybody, the police just killed somebody on TV!' Nell said.

"Nell, a photographer, said he asked the boys if they wanted to shoot pictures with his camera instead. He said one replied, 'Can you put real bullets in it?'

"With shootings persistently high in Baltimore, Nell said he wants to discourage neighborhood kids from playing with toy guns. In recent days, he and a group of other community activists have walked up and down Pennsylvania Avenue in West Baltimore, asking the owners of corner stores and discount shops to stop selling toy firearms.

"Of some 20 stores he has visited, nearly half had toy guns or similar products for sale — and the majority have agreed to stop carrying them, he said.

"Nell, 39, said he is motivated by incidents in recent years in which police officers shot young African-Americans after mistaking replica guns for real weapons. He said the surge of violence in Baltimore, as well as the recent fatal shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota by police officers, added urgency to his mission.

"'In the heat of everything that's going on, I wanted to focus on something tangible,' he said.

"Nell visited stores with representatives of the Village Keepers of Baltimore, No Boundaries Coalition and other local community organizations."


Full Article

From the Baltimore Sun: Baltimore settles police brutality lawsuit fro $150,000

"Baltimore's Board of Estimates on Wednesday is set to approve a $150,000 payment to settle a lawsuit alleging police brutality.

"The five-member panel is scheduled to award the money to Tiyon Williams, who filed suit in 2014 against Lt. Joel Fried, Det. Maurice Ward and Det. Robert W. Mitchell for alleged battery and false arrest, among other claims.

"The incident stems from May 19, 2012, when Williams was talking with a friend in the 900 block of N. Mount St. when officers approached and arrested his friend, according to the city. Williams ran and Ward chased him and tackled him. Williams said he was compliant with the officer's orders, but nonetheless was "dragged and beaten" before being placed in handcuffs.

"Williams alleged he suffered injuries to his head and face as the result of being "punched," "stomped," and having his head hit a cement sidewalk during the arrest.

"Police determined he had committed no crime and he was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

"Mitchell was charged with second-degree assault and misconduct as a result of the incident, but those criminal charges were later dropped. Former Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts called the allegations against Mitchell "reprehensible."

"Baltimore has agreed to pay out $12 million to settle civil claims of police misconduct since 2010."

Full Article

From the Washington Post: Nomination of Carla Hayden to Library of Congress is stuck in Senate

"It seems even a job as uncontroversial as librarian of Congress isn’t immune to congressional infighting.

"Librarian of Congress nominee Carla Hayden — the chief executive of the Baltimore public library — breezed through a Senate committee hearing in April, and, within weeks, the committee voted unanimously to recommend that the Senate approve her nomination to be the 14th librarian of Congress.

“'The nominee, in my opinion, brings a wealth of experience to the position and it is my hope that this experience will lead the Library of Congress in a way that . . . meets the demands of the 21st century,' Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said of Hayden, who would be the first woman and the first African American to lead the agency.

"But not all Republicans agree, and as a result Hayden’s nomination has been held up. There has been no public explanation for the five-week delay, although privately some conservatives have been critical of the positions Hayden took as head of the American Library Association, including her opposition to a federal law requiring libraries to install Internet filters to block pornography. Others decry her lack of academic heft, saying the position is a scholarly one.

"The Republican squabble is frustrating Hayden’s supporters.

“'It’s confounding that such a highly qualified person who has been unanimously endorsed by the Rules Committee is languishing on the floor,' said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). 'The librarian has an important role to play, and we ought to confirm Carla Hayden as soon as possible.'

"Julie Todaro, president of the American Library Association, cited the range of organizations that have endorsed Hayden, including the leading library, technology and entertainment trade associations.

"Hayden, 63, is credited with modernizing the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, where she has overseen a $112 million renovation of its central branch and the opening of the first new branch in 35 years. She was praised for keeping the library open during the community protests over the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. She earned a PhD from the University of Chicago and has served on the National Museum and Library Services Board since 2010.

"She told the Senate committee that upgrading the library’s technology would be a top priority, especially concerning its Copyright Office, which has been plagued with problems. Government investigators last year criticized the library for outdated and inefficient technology practices that wasted millions in taxpayer dollars."

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