Baltimore News Updates from Independent & Regional Media 8/13

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Dear You: Monique Crabb

This week’s news includes: Comptroller’s office shredding marathon, racism in Baltimore City private schools, the gas explosion catastrophe, and more reporting from The AFRO, Community Architect Daily, Baltimore, and others.



Photography by Christopher Myers

The Two Pandemics: A Hopkins director connects the dots of COVID-19 and racism
by Max Weiss
Published August 11 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: Dr. Lisa Cooper wants to make it clear that racism is a public health crisis. The director of Johns Hopkins’ Urban Health Institute and its Center for Health Equity, which both work to document and overcome systemic health disparities, explains that the COVID-19 pandemic and protests surrounding the death of George Floyd are actually related.

“It’s interesting that this epidemic of police brutality against African-American communities is colliding with this health epidemic,” she says. “A lot of people didn’t realize that police brutality is not only a terrible social problem, but it leads to all kinds of other problems.”

Problems like mental health issues, drug addiction, and chronic disease, says Cooper, which begin at a young age.

“It starts with African-American children and the ways that they experience racism in school, that they don’t have opportunities to obtain gainful employment, that they get targeted by law enforcement early in life, which impairs their ability to lead more productive lives,” she says. All of which makes them more likely to get sick.



Deputy Comptroller Harriette Taylor at a meeting in City Hall in March. (Fern Shen)

Document shredding in comptroller’s office went on for 12 hours
by Mark Reutter
Published August 12 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: Baltimore’s deputy comptroller, Bernice H. “Harriette” Taylor, spent 12 hours at City Hall last Thursday and Friday collecting and shredding documents after she learned that the U.S. Department of Labor wanted to further investigate the comptroller’s office for wage and hour violations.

The lengthy period of shredding by Taylor, who retired last April shortly after The Brew disclosed the federal investigation, took place in a back room of the second-floor offices of Comptroller Joan M. Pratt.

Acting City Solicitor Dana Moore confirmed today the extent of Taylor’s document destruction, telling The Brew it started on Thursday afternoon and lasted until late in the evening, then resumed again on Friday morning.

“My understanding is that it was approximately 12 hours in all,” Moore said, noting that “it was clearly not appropriate, especially when there is an ongoing federal investigation.”



An illustration by the author.

Demand better: The conversation continues as we take action for racial equity in Baltimore
by Alex Galiani
Published August 11 in Baltimore

Excerpt: We’ve reached a critical juncture in our struggle for social justice. One thing has become clear: it’s now time to dig in and fight like hell. An honest examination is required of the institutionalized racism that has been built to oppress us all. You are not alone in your thoughts, your doubts, fears, hopes and dreams.

There’s no turning back, Baltimore.

Since the murder of George Floyd and publication of my essay, “Navigating the two worlds of Baltimore,” I have had the privilege to engage in some of the most powerful conversations of my life. The protests galvanized me to share my story about growing up in Charm City, battling racism and my journey towards self identity. In response, I have heard from nonracists, antiracists, racists and everyone in between.



image from Community Architect Daily

The Russian Roulette of leaky gas pipes
by Klaus Philipsen
Published August 11 in Community Architect Daily

Excerpt: Some Baltimoreans had just comforted themselves that a massive explosion like the one in Beirut would not happen here, no matter how many complaints there are about the competence of local government. Nobody would put thousands of tons of Ammonium Nitrate into a warehouse and then throw away the keys. But then three Baltimore rowhouses blew away on a bright and sunny summer morning, just like that. The destruction happened on a much smaller scale than in Beirut, but what neighbors stared at in the 4200 block of Labyrinth Road in Baltimore’s Milbrook neighborhood looked quite similar to what happened in Lebanon.

Three houses were entirely flattened, people were trapped in the rubble and neighbors could feel the blast wave blocks away where it blew windows and doors out of their frames and knocked people and items over in the process. On a hot and humid Monday morning, the only plausible explanation for the blast is natural gas. The cause, however, is officially unknown as of this writing. Gas is carried through lines which crisscross the city almost under every street, providing a fairly clean and efficient source of heat for furnaces, hot water heaters, dryers and stoves in tens of thousands of homes for a total of over 600,000 customers in City and County. Each of these appliances can be faulty and cause a leak.

See also:
No Gas Leaks Found In Homes Destroyed By Monday Explosion, BGE Says
by Emily Sullivan
Published August 11 in WYPR

Baltimore Gas Explosion Victims Identified As Lonnie Herriott, Joseph Graham
by Ava-joye Burnett
Published August 12 in WJZ13



Photo courtesy of CDC.

Maryland COVID-19 hospitalizations decrease by largest amount since June
by Marcus Dieterle
Published August 12 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Maryland’s coronavirus-related hospitalizations dropped by 41 patients, the largest one-day change since the metric decreased by the same amount on June 23, state data show.

Hospitalizations decreased from 529 on Tuesday to 488 today, also marking the first time that the number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 has fallen below 500 since June 21 when the metric reached 484.

The state has hospitalized a total of 13,348 people with coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.



A post by a Bryn Mawr School 2016 alum from the Instagram page Being Black at the Tri Schools.

Racism in Baltimore private schools: “I’m not a zoo animal!”
by Louis Krauss
Published August 11 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: When Bryn Mawr School sophomore Kellsie Lewis and a couple of her friends asked a white student to help them learn a new Tik Tok dance during their English class, the response they got felt like a gut punch.

“She told us to ‘move like you’re picking cotton,’” said Lewis, a 15-year-old Black student who had transferred in sixth grade from a predominantly African American city school to the private, all-girls Bryn Mawr.

“I was thinking of all the analogies she could’ve used, and she picked that one,” Lewis told The Brew. “I felt ashamed, looking back on it, for not saying anything at the time.”



Photography by Arston Jacks

How Artscape Prize Winner LaToya M. Hobbs Forged Her Own Path Into Fine Arts
by Oyin Adedoyin
Published August 6 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: When Baltimore artist LaToya M. Hobbs was a little girl, her grandmother Johnetta would wake her and her cousins early in the morning to recite a prayer in the living room. It was something she dreaded as a child, but now inspires a piece in her latest exhibition titled, “How Johnetta Taught Us to Pray.”

The piece is a part of Hobbs’ Salt of the Earth series inspired by biblical scripture Matthew 5:13, in which she personifies Black women as preservers of their families, cultures, and communities. It consists of two portraits of Hobbs and her mother in a position of prayer.

“For me it pays homage to the women in my family,” Hobbs says. “I’ve been really thinking about the legacies that have been passed down from generation to generation. I feel like prayer is one of those things.”



image from the Governor's facebook page

Maryland Gov. Hogan OKs plan for just 360 voting centers statewide for November election amid lack of poll workers
by Emily Opilo and Pamela Wood
Published August 10 in the Baltimore Sun

Excerpt: Gov. Larry Hogan has approved a plan to offer just 360 voting centers across Maryland for the November election despite what he said were “serious concerns” about the proposal.
Hogan’s decision, issued via a proclamation late Monday, gives the State Board of Elections authority to proceed with the voting center plan as an alternative to opening about 1,600 polling places this fall.

The voting centers, unlike polling places, could be used by any voter in a county, and would be placed primarily at public high schools across the state.

The state board voted unanimously Friday to recommend the plan in response to lobbying from local election directors, who said they would not be able to staff a full complement of polling places in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of last week, the local boards were short by about 14,000 election judges, and committed judges were continuing to drop out, local officials reported.



Photo by the Howard County Board of Elections.

State Elections Board Sets Dates for Early Voting
by Bennett Leckrone
published August 12 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: Early voting in Maryland will take place between Oct. 26 and Nov. 2 — one day before Election Day — State Board of Elections members decided at their Wednesday afternoon meeting.

The State Board of Elections’ plan previously called for Maryland’s 80 early voting centers to open across the state beginning on Oct. 29. Board members unanimously recommended expanding the days for early voting.

The locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on all eight days of early voting and will remain open on Election Day.

The decision to expand early voting came days after Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) approved the State Board of Elections plan to use Maryland’s 282 public high schools – or an equivalent number of locations – as voting centers on Election Day instead of opening every precinct-level polling location.

That means at least 362 voting centers will be open for Election Day, although State Board of Elections Chairman Michael C. Cogan emphasized local boards should try to expand the number of early and Election Day voting centers.

“These are a floor, they’re not a ceiling,” Cogan said. “We want as many voting sites as possible.”



Associated Black Charities (ABC) released its first feature film {Structural Racism: A Baltimore History}, describing the wealth gap African Americans experience in Charm City. (Courtesy Photo)

Associated Black Charities Film Shows Structural Racism’s Impact on Baltimore’s Black Community
by Micha Green
Published August 12 in The AFRO

Excerpt: While the American hustle suggests pulling oneself up by the bootstraps, Associated Black Charities’ (ABC) new film Structural Racism: A Baltimore History, reveals that African Americans can’t as easily achieve the “American Dream,” because of centuries of discriminatory laws and policies that still affect Charm City to this day.

“It makes it hard to pull yourself up from the bootstraps, because you don’t have boots,” University of Baltimore professor Joseph Wood said in ABC’s first feature film, explaining the plight of the African-American experience.

True to ABC’s mission, Structural Racism: A Baltimore History unveils the horrors of the racial wealth gap in Baltimore. Through historic accounts and timelines specific to Charm City, the film reveals how African Americans were truly never given the boots to adjust their bootstraps, or a fair start in order to run the marathon that is life. While whites were given certain assistance, allowed to purchase homes in several areas and ultimately thrive, since the 18th century, Black Baltimoreans have faced multiple barriers that contribute to current issues in the African-American community, including mass incarceration and housing, economic, educational and health disparities.



Header image: AP Photo/Julio Cortez

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