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Baltimore COVID-19 News Updates from Independent & Regional Media 6/18

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On the Front Lines: Photography and Protest

This week’s news includes: COVID-19 cases on the decline, Port Covington project proceeds over ACLU protest, taking a new look at law enforcement in Baltimore, and more reporting from Technical.ly Baltimore, Greater Greater Washington, Real News Network, and others.

 

If this pandemic — and the anguished swell of Black Lives Matter protests — fail to galvanize an unyielding commitment to right the appalling wrongs of systemic racism, then shame on us.
A Black Lives Matter protest in Rockville earlier this month. Photo by Margaret Thale

Virus’ Unequal Devastation in Communities of Color Must Guide the Response
by Brian Frosh
Published June 17 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: As we lead the world in COVID-19 victims, we’re also watching a second tragedy unfold: the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on people of color. And the death of George Floyd, the latest in a searing number of African-Americans killed in horrifying acts of police brutality, has provided more agonizing proof of the systemic racism that permeates American life.

As we undertake the urgent work of police reform to stop these killings, we must also recognize their link to the racially disparate impacts of COVID-19. It will take years to understand all that went wrong in our pandemic response, but the unequal devastation it wrought in communities of color must be front and center in our search for solutions. And we must begin now — neither the moral imperative to prevent future killings nor the next pandemic will wait.

 

 

Make no mistake: There will be no greater calling in your lifetime than this call to action right now.
Alex Galiani outside the home where he grew up. (Photo by Anthony Adia)

Navigating the two worlds of Baltimore
by Alex Galiani
Published June 17 in Technical.ly Baltimore

Excerpt: Are you tired yet? Are you ready to be distracted by something else? Find something, anything, that will take you away from all of this? Are you ready to go back to your normal routine and business as usual? Feel free to do so as best you can. You can breathe a sigh of relief, and no need to read any further.

Still with me? Welcome to the next Great Awakening.

Take a deep breath — there is much work to be done.

This is just a small part of my story as a black kid growing up in Baltimore. This is my story about negotiating a system, that, during my childhood, was working with a frightening amount of surgical precision to divide and oppress black people, while actively ensuring all the privileges, benefits and opportunities for success would be afforded for white people.

 

 

Baltimore Police car CREDIT MARY ROSE MADDEN / WYPR

Maryland Delegates Ask Hogan To Ban Police Chokeholds
by Mary Rose Madden
Published June 16 in WYPR

Excerpt: House Speaker Adrienne Jones and all 98 Democratic members of the Maryland House of Delegates called on Gov. Larry Hogan Tuesday to sign an executive order that would make several policing tactics illegal in the 18 law enforcement agencies under the state’s control.

In a letter sent to Hogan, the delegates urged him to ban chokeholds, require deadly force be used only to stop an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury and ban shooting at vehicles.

Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, a Howard County Democrat and chair of the House’s workgroup on police reform and accountability, said the aim is to turn best practices in policing into law.

“It’s in the best interest of all the citizens that we have a uniform use of force throughout all the police departments,” Atterbeary said.

 

 

Image courtesy of CDC.

Rate of positive coronavirus tests in Maryland continues to decline
by Marcus Dieterle
Published June 17 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Maryland’s average rate of positive coronavirus tests continues to decline, with a seven-day average of 5.81 percent coming back positive on Wednesday, state data show.

At least 62,969 Marylanders have tested positive for COVID-19, while 378,374 have tested negative as of Wednesday morning, according to the Maryland Department of Health’s COVID-19 Case Map Dashboard.

Maryland has conducted at least 526,882 tests to date, with 15,594 test results reported in the past 24 hours.

 

 

Moving forward, I am going to hold everyone accountable to every dollar, every agreement and everything that we say is going to happen in this project because Baltimore cannot afford to have it fail.
Brandon Scott
Charly Carter, of Step Up to Lead, one of the groups that protested the Port Covington bond sale, addresses the Board of Estimates today. (CharmTV)

Rewriting history: City now says Under Armour “isn’t relevant” to Port Covington project
by Mark Reutter
Published June 17 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: Batting aside a protest by the American Civil Liberties Union and four other groups, the Board of Estimates today approved the sale of $148 million in bonds for the Port Covington project in South Baltimore.

Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young and his two appointees, acting City Solicitor Dana Moore and acting Public Works Director Matt Garbark, denied the ACLU protest and approved the sale of tax increment TIF bonds requested by Weller Development.

They took action after Colin Tarbert, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., insisted that the original rationale of the development – to serve as a platform for a new global campus of Under Armour – was never “contingent” or “relevant” to the financing package.

“Under Armour was an amenity for the development, and the development was an amenity for the Under Armour campus,” Tarbert told the board. “But the two are exclusive of one another in terms of project financing and liability.”

 

 

We cannot wait for a catastrophe at the hands of an armed police officer in our schools to make a change. By removing SROs from our schools, this Board can take the first important step in dismantling the school security apparatus, and reimagine schools without police.
Maryland Office of the Public Defender
Photo by Neal Golden

“We Can’t Wait”: Defunding Police Has Its Moment
by Jaisal Noor
Published June 11 in Baltimore Beat

Excerpt: The movement to defund the police has grown in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on May 25. The idea of defunding police is rooted in the decades-old prison abolitionist movement and amid increasing protests, and increasing police violence against protesters, it has become a topic of national conversation.

“The movement is aimed at creating a world where public safety is not defined by police and crime but how communities use their resources to care for each other,” said Ralikh Hayes, Deputy Director of Organizing Black, a grassroots member-led collective demanding Baltimore cut police spending in half to fund education and social services in disinvested Black communities.

Democratic and Republican leadership has so far rejected the idea of defunding the police, “The better answer is to give police departments the resources they need to implement meaningful reforms,” presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden wrote in a recent USA Today op-ed. Instead Biden has proposed spending an additional $300 million on community policing, along with reforms that activists have rejected as ineffectual.

“We know that policing in this country hasn’t worked for a long time and Biden’s response shows how out of touch the Democratic Party is with its base of Black people,” Hayes said.

also see:

Photos From The Defund BPD March
by Larry Cohen
Published June 13 in Baltimore Beat

 

 

I think that Mayor Schmoke was way ahead of his time. Re-imagining how we deal with drug policy from top to bottom is the only way.
Brandon Scott
photo courtesy Real News Network

Reimagining Public Safety In One Of America’s Deadliest Cities
by Jaisal Noor
Published June 17 in Real News Network

Excerpt: Mayoral Democratic primary winner Brandon Scott discusses calls to cut the Baltimore police budget to fund social programs, his approach to the drug war, and economic development in a city that’s long subsidized corporations at the expense of taxpayers.

 

 

It’s not enough for people to just be on social media and say they support something. We wanted to be here. We wanted be present. That’s how you show you support the movement and calls for reform and changes.
Chrissy Okemkpa, a Morgan State University graduated who attended the rally
Photography by M. Holden Warren

As Council Weighs Budget, Protestors Paint ‘Defund the Police’ Outside City Hall
by Ron Cassie
Published June 15 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: Two-hundred-plus demonstrators calling for cuts to the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) budget, and a reallocation of BPD funding to other agencies, marched to City Hall Friday afternoon with several protestors painting “Defund the Police” in large, block lettering on Gay Street.

Protest organizers, including local grassroots group Organizing Black, said they set the time and place of the rally to send a message to the City Council as they began their virtual budget hearings Friday afternoon. Among those attending the budget hearing was Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, along with other officials.

“The police budget increases every year, and every year, there’s more crime,” Taz Gaines, with Organizing Black, told reporters as the street painting got underway. “Why are we still increasing funding? We should be taking away funding and adding it to education and housing. It’s not just about defunding the police, but reinvesting that money back into the city.”

 

 

Baltimore doesn’t need to look too far into our history to see how transit decisions have contributed to systemic racism. In 2015, Governor Larry Hogan killed the Red Line, a proposed East-West transit line connecting some of Baltimore’s Blackest neighborhoods with downtown. Due to lack of support from suburban communities — the same suburban communities built by white flight — Hogan shelved the plans indefinitely.
Baltimore’s Charm City Circulator by Elvert Barnes licensed under Creative Commons.

Could defunding Baltimore’s police department help transit?
by Martin Csongradi
Published June 17 in Greater Greater Washington

Excerpt: In cities across the country, a call to defund the police and repurpose funds back into programs that help Black communities is growing louder by the day. And, Baltimore is no different. The City Council voted Monday to slash about $22 million from the Baltimore Police Department’s $550 million budget.

But where will that money go? One area the city could consider investing into is the city’s transit system. For decades, unequal access to affordable transit options have weighed down Baltimore’s Black community and have exacerbated racial inequality in the city. An infusion of funds may help to bridge the transit gap.

 

 

As it turns out, what residents of communities hardest hit by gun violence in Baltimore want are policies that research has shown to be effective in curbing gun violence.

New Report on Enforcement of Gun Laws in Baltimore Finds More Focused Approached Could Reduce Violence, Improve Community Relationships with City Police
by Daniel Webster, Cassandra Crifasi, Rebecca Williams, Marisa Doll Booty, and Shani Buggs
Published by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Excerpt: A new report from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health finds that broad “stop-and-search” practices used for many years by Baltimore police to look for illegally possessed guns have minimal, if any, impact on gun violence. These practices also result in mental and physical harm to those who are unjustifiably searched and serve to undermine community trust in police.

The researchers also found that residents of communities most impacted by gun violence in Baltimore want more focused and accountable law enforcement to reduce gun violence.

The report, Reducing Violence and Building Trust: Data to Guide Enforcement of Gun Laws in Baltimore, was written prior to the recent killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis, Minnesota, police and the resulting protests opposing law enforcement violence.

The researchers conducted 200 household surveys and four focus group discussions in 2018 in parts of West and East Baltimore that experience high levels of gun violence. The report also draws on analyses of law enforcement data in Baltimore, law enforcement practices in other cities, a 2018 review of proactive policing by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, and a survey of practices from other law enforcement agencies.

 

 

Header image: photo by Larry Cohen from his Baltimore Beat photo essay

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