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Local News

In the Media: New Faces of City Council Discuss DOJ Report; Innovative Arts Education in Baltimore


A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From the Baltimore Sun: Lawsuit filed by officers in Freddie Gray case vs. Marilyn Mosby without merit, attorneys say

"Attorneys for Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby say lawsuits filed by five of the officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray have no merit and should be dismissed.

"Responding to the lawsuits for the first time, lawyers from the state attorney general's office who are representing Mosby said in filings late Friday that she can't be sued for actions taken as a prosecutor.

"They also noted that the probable cause to file the charges against the five officers was validated by a District Court commissioner, a grand jury and the judge who oversaw the cases.

"'It is undisputed that other persons and entities within the criminal justice system repeatedly found probable cause after the filing of the' charges, her attorneys wrote.

"Mosby's office filed charges against six officers involved in Gray's April 2015 arrest. Prosecutors said three of the officers wrongly arrested Gray and that all failed to follow Police Department rules that required officers to secure him with a seat belt in a police van and to seek medical care for his injuries.

"The first trial ended in a mistrial when jurors failed to reach a verdict, and the next three officers were acquitted by a judge. After the third acquittal, prosecutors dropped all remaining charges against all officers.

"The lawsuits, filed while the criminal cases were ongoing, were brought by Officers Garrett Miller, Edward Nero and William Porter, Sgt. Alicia White and Lt. Brian Rice. Officer Caesar Goodson, the driver of the van inside which Gray was injured, has not joined the lawsuits.

"The officers allege that Mosby and Sheriff Samuel Cogen knowingly filed false charges against them 'in furtherance of [their] own personal interests and political agenda.'

"'Their illegal arrests were made without probable cause and demonstrated ill will, improper motivation and/or evil purpose,' attorney Joseph Thomas Mallon Jr. wrote in the suit filed by Miller and Nero.

"Mosby's attorneys are asking U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis to throw out the lawsuit or rule in favor of Mosby.

"The officers also claim defamation. Their attorneys have cited Mosby's announcement of the charges against the officers, in a speech on the steps of the War Memorial building in downtown Baltimore, days after rioting that led to a citywide curfew.

"Critics have attacked Mosby for addressing protesters during her remarks, and using her campaign slogan, 'Our time is now.'"

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From the AFRO American: New Faces of City Council Grapple with DOJ Findings

"New faces will soon appear on the Baltimore City Council, bringing with them their own experiences, views, and ideas on how to grow and protect Charm City.

"Winners of the April 26 Democratic primary election spoke with the AFRO about possible solutions to the police brutality, discrimination and repeated constitutional violations by the Baltimore Police Department recently identified by the Department of Justice. While the election is on Nov. 8, the last time a Republican was on the City Council was in 1942.

"The DOJ report found that hundreds of thousands of unconstitutional stops, illegal and publicly degrading strip searches, tasings, and physical assaults have eroded the public trust- especially in the Black communities that have been targeted.

"The findings weave an intricate picture of how these encounters turn into thousands of arrests with no probable cause, thus creating thousands of dismissed cases that clog the criminal justice system.

“'Folks in this town have been living under a deeply oppressive regime of zerotolerance policing for a long time,' said Zeke Cohen, who won the primary as a Democratic nominee for the first district. 'Part of this has to do with the deep legacy of racism and White supremacy that has shaped the city’s history and remains with us today.'

"Cohen said the City needs to 'completely overhaul what it means to be a police officer in Baltimore in 2016- starting with how we recruit' – even if that means hiring reputable members of the community with distant marijuana convictions. New Maryland police officers are not allowed to have ever used drugs.

“'Policing needs to come from within our communities,' said Cohen, a former teacher in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood. 'Officers policing communities they don’t feel are their own is deeply problematic.'

"Isaac 'Yitzy' Schleifer, who is poised to represent the fifth district, said when citizens have officers who live in their neighborhood responding to calls for service 'they have a different interaction because they are looked at as a friend or a neighbor.'

"Both Schleifer and Cohen said the failed war on drugs and mental health crisis in Baltimore should also be addressed with better services, not aggressive policing.

"John Bullock, who won the primary in the ninth district, agreed with the report and other tentative council members on the issue of better training for officers.

"Both Bullock and District Eight’s primary winner, Kristerfer Burnett, agreed the lack of accountability highlighted by the report is a major problem.

"Burnett wants to see more done in the civilian review board process, and Bullock told the AFRO he wants to see officers held personally accountable for their actions.

"Both the Baltimore Police Department and the Department of Justice have agreed to work together with the community to increase accountability through 'policies, training, and data collection and analysis.'

"Cohen, Schleifer, Bullock, and Burnett all agreed that the city is moving in the right direction."

Full Article

From the Baltimore Sun: Region’s innovative arts education and programs give outlet, experience

"At Baltimore Youth Arts, teenagers are painting murals around the city. At Mercy High School, students are performing alongside music and theater professionals. And at Creative Alliance, kids are using Baltimore club music to learn new dance techniques.

"Around the region, new and innovative educational programs are helping youth channel their creative energies, exposing them to arts mentors and providing real-world experience — whether they're aspiring to arts careers, expressing themselves or acquiring skills that will enhance multiple areas of their lives.

"Working with the arts is 'not only beneficial for social and emotional development, but it also allows for youth to collaborate and to develop teamwork skills and critical thinking,' says Gianna Rodriguez, founder of Baltimore Youth Arts, which teaches visual and literary arts and job readiness to area youth.

"'It helps them practice patience and teaches them how to develop a plan,' she said.

"With many students returning to school this week, we surveyed some of the new offerings serving residents from barely school-age to 21. Here's a sampling."

Full Article