Baltimore COVID-19 News Updates from Independent & Regional Media 6/25

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This week’s news includes: Former Mayor Pugh sentenced to jail, trash service to resume after COVID concerns, Myrtis Bedolla and other Black gallerists respond to racial inequalities at Art Basel and beyond, and more reporting from Baltimore Fishbowl, Maryland Matters, WYPR, and others.


image: Washington Post

Pugh Pleads Guilty to State Perjury Charge, Heads to Federal Prison Next Week
by Josh Kurtz
Published June 19 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: Former Baltimore mayor Catherine E. Pugh (D) on Friday pleaded guilty in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to a charge of perjury for her failure to disclose her business interest in Healthy Holly, LLC, on her financial disclosures when she served in the Maryland Senate.

Maryland State Prosecutor Charlton Howard said that while Pugh did disclose her business interests in other companies that she owned or operated on forms she submitted to the Maryland State Ethics Commission, she did not disclose her interest in Healthy Holly, LLC, or the earnings of at least $345,000 she pocketed in 2016 through sales of her “Healthy Holly” books.

Anne Arundel Circuit Court Judge Mark W. Crooks sentenced Pugh to six months’ in prison, to be served concurrent to her federal sentence, which is scheduled to begin on June 26.



Gov. Larry Hogan announced universal testing at Juvenile Services facilities in May, but few staff or residents have so far been tested.

Despite ‘Universal Testing’ At Juvenile Detention Centers, Few Have Had COVID-19 Tests
by Rachel Baye
Published June 21 in WYPR

Excerpt: Gov. Larry Hogan announced on May 20 that the state would do “universal testing” for COVID-19 at juvenile detention facilities. But the vast majority of both the youth residents and the staff at these facilities have yet to be tested, and the state Department of Juvenile Services doesn’t expect to finish the first round of tests until the end of July.

Department of Juvenile Services officials said they have so far tested all of the staff at three of their 13 facilities and the youth at five.

“We wanted to test our protocols and make sure that they were sufficient,” said DJS Assistant Secretary Betsy Fox Tolentino.



It’s just overdue that we address that we have monuments that continue to perpetuate propagandism and revisionist history that holds up history’s villains as heroes.
Councilman Ryan Dorsey (District 3)
Left to right, Abdul Salaam, Tawanda Jones, Marah O’Neal and Darlene Cain raise their fists as they stand in front of the Columbus Obelisk Monument in Heinz Park in Northeast Baltimore. A bill sponsored by Councilman Ryan Dorsey (District 3) would rename the monument to honor victims of police violence. Photo by Marcus Dieterle.

Dorsey introduces bill to rename Columbus obelisk to honor victims of police brutality
by Marcus Dieterle
Published June 23 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: As demonstrations across the United States draw attention to police brutality and racial injustice, many protesters have reignited the debate over the historical figures the country chooses to memorialize.

Some protests in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and others have included people toppling or defacing monuments for Confederate generals and soldiers who fought the Civil War to preserve slavery. Those post-war tributes are associated with larger systems of white supremacy, protesters have argued, and that’s why they have to come down.

In some cases, memorials to some of the country’s most significant figures, like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, have been targeted because those men were slaveholders.

Against the backdrop of those ongoing and overlapping discussions, Councilman Ryan Dorsey (District 3) last night introduced a bill to rededicate one of three monuments in the city for explorer Christopher Columbus–an obelisk in Northeast Baltimore’s Heinz Park–as the Police Violence Victims Monument.



Maryland’s version of the law grants police special rights when they are investigated for misconduct and provides significant obstacles to conducting investigations of officers accused of wrongdoing.
Sean Yoes

‘Qualified Immunity’ and the Baltimore Police Strike of 1974
by Sean Yoes
Published June 18 in AFRO News

Excerpt: “Qualified immunity” is the modern-day legal doctrine that has shielded law enforcement officers and other government officials for decades against lawsuits over their conduct. According to National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg, the Supreme Court this week declined to hear cases seeking to reexamine qualified immunity in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the homicide of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta at the hands of police.

The doctrine of qualified immunity may have been birthed out of the fear and loathing spawned by the Baltimore Police strike in the summer of 1974.



For each employee who tested positive, there should be an incident report. But they didn’t want that. They wanted no paper trail.
a DPW employee
City trash is collected by a Bureau of Solid Waste employee. (“DPW Proud,” YouTube)

Trash pick-up resumes amid employee concerns about coronavirus infection
by Fern Shen
Published June 24 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: More than 100 trash collectors are set to return to work after a coronavirus outbreak halted recycling pickup in Baltimore for three weeks, leaving streets and alleys across the city filled with trash.

“We expect to return as close to normal as possible in the coming weeks,” Acting Public Works Director Matthew Garbark said at a news conference yesterday.

Acknowledging citizens’ frustration about “having trash pile up for weeks at a time,” Garbark said the department “is in full agreement” that the situation is “completely unacceptable,” but defended its response.

“I don’t think the Bureau of Solid Waste has ever experienced this level of disruption in its history,” he said.



Photo by Clay Banks, via Unsplash

The role of Black lawyers in expanding access to justice
by Kisha A. Brown
Published June 24 in Baltimore

Excerpt: As a Black woman it is heavy to witness new videos surface every day of police brutality, unnecessary arrests, and excessive force. However, these atrocities are not new, and have been occurring long before video captured and CNN broadcasted. As such, we have the right to protest systemic racism and government-sanctioned violence. We have the right to be angry at the inequality, discrimination and injustice. We have the right to mobilize and strategize to effectuate real change for ourselves and the Black community as a whole.

As thousands pour into the streets all across the country and even around the world, the call to action is the same: No Justice, No Peace.

As a lawyer, I think about the limited access to justice Black people experience in the American legal system, and how we are acutely underserved and most susceptible to systemic manipulation. Although most people tend to be intimidated by the legal system, Black people are even more hesitant to proactively engage the courts. On top of everything, the current lawyer search process can be overwhelming at best and inconclusive at worst. Now more than ever, the role of Black lawyers is critical to the advancement of defending Black lives when others fail to hear the call to duty.



Two Ouzo Bay Managers No Longer With Restaurant After Black Boy Denied Service Over Alleged Dress Code Violation
by Ava-joye Burnett
Published June 23 in WJZ CBS13

Excerpt: Two managers at the Ouzo Bay restaurant in Baltimore are no longer with the company following the latest dress code controversy involving an Atlas Restaurant Group restaurant.

On Monday, Atlas Restaurant Group issued an apology after a video surfaced of a manager telling a woman and her son they couldn’t dine at the restaurant because the boy was wearing athletic shorts. In the video, the boy’s mother asked multiple times why her son, who is Black, was being turned away when another boy, who is white and was dressed similarly, had been able to dine there.

Since then, the restaurant group has said two managers “have been separated from and are no longer with the organization.”
The dress code has also been changed to exclude any requirements for children 12 or younger, and the restaurant group plans to form an advisory board to address corporate social responsibility.

In a statement, Atlas said “We stand against all forms of racism and believe Black lives matter.”

See also: Christina Tkacik’s November 2019 review of The Choptank, another Atlas Restaurant, which according to the author “declined to allow one of the Sun’s trained photographers in to take pictures of the food” because of the Baltimore Sun’s previous coverage of the restaurant’s racist dress code.


Baltimore barbershops help clients cope with city’s ‘senseless violence’
by Kaanita Iyer, Jason Fontelieu, and Jamal Williams
Published June 17 in Capital News Service

Excerpt: In most barbershops, you might find posters that show style trends or magazines stacked on tables. But in New Beginnings barbershop, what stands out are student artwork on the walls and stacks of pamphlets promoting art exhibits and health screenings.

New Beginnings is not just a place for a trim. It’s also a place where you can address health concerns and trauma that stem from violence in Baltimore.

“I had to start doing things to address the issue of senseless violence, starting with myself, as well as others, that brought forth the urgency to unite barbers and beauticians with much more depth,” New Beginnings owner Troy Staton said.



If galleries such as mine are not allowed to participate, then it limits our access to major collectors, it limits our access to museum curators who may not find me in Baltimore.
Myrtis Bedolla
“The art world is still segregated,” said Myrtis Bedolla, owner of Galerie Myrtis in Baltimore, shown with Delita Martin’s “Star Children,” which includes drawing, sewing, painting and collage.Credit…Michael A. McCoy for The New York Times

Black Gallerists Press Forward Despite a Market That Holds Them Back
by Robin Pogrebin
Published June 21 in New York Times

Excerpt: Art Basel’s online viewing rooms went live on Thursday, presenting 281 of the world’s leading modern and contemporary art galleries.

Not one of them is owned by an African-American.

Despite the increasing attention being paid to black artists — many of whom have been snatched up by mega dealers and seen the prices for their work surge at auction — the number of black-owned galleries representing artists in the United States remains strikingly, stubbornly low. There is only one African-American gallerist in the 176-member Art Dealers Association of America, a professional group.

Now, as the country focuses on systemic racism amid the George Floyd protests, some black dealers say the mostly white art market is long overdue for a radical transformation. “Until we have a seat at the table, this is going to continue to be an exclusive club,” said Karen Jenkins-Johnson of Jenkins Johnson Gallery in San Francisco and Brooklyn. “We are not playing on a level playing field.”



The B&P Tunnel in 1977 by Public domain.

Could Maryland finally be ready to replace Baltimore’s oldest rail tunnel?
by Alex Holt
Published June 24 in Greater Greater Washington

Excerpt: Baltimore Penn Station and the trains which pass through it are set for some pretty exciting changes over the next few years. The station itself is set for a major overhaul starting potentially as early as this year and a bill to study expanding MARC (Maryland Area Rail Commuter) service to include Penn Line trains to Delaware and Virginia and creating a link between MARC’s Penn and Camden Lines, was recently vetoed by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan but has enough legislative support in Annapolis that it’s still likely to pass into law by the end of January 2021, especially after a recent study found high demand for one of its key provisions.

But none of these recent plans and developments are anywhere near as feasible or commercially viable without another much-anticipated project in the works for an even longer period of time — the reconstruction by Amtrak of the B&P (Baltimore and Potomac) Tunnel.

This is the 147-year old rail tunnel between West Baltimore and Baltimore Penn Stations which almost every passenger train passes through between Baltimore and Washington, DC (As well as two Norfolk Southern freight trains per day).

With ⅕ of all of Amtrak’s passenger trips and ⅓ of its ticket revenue dependent on travel through Baltimore, replacing the B&P Tunnel is arguably just as important to the future of the Northeast Corridor as the more high-profile Gateway Program in New York and New Jersey and the Long Bridge in Washington, DC and Virginia and has been the subject of discussion for about as long as each of those two other projects.



Header image: from BaltimoreBeat "Photos From Say Her Name: March For Black Womyn and Femme Survivors" by Larry Cohen

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