Baltimore News Updates from Independent & Regional Media 8/20

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Counting The Days: Visual Diary by Parastoo Aslanbeik

This week’s news includes: Baltimore political leaders take on problems with the Post Office, Hogan and other governors pledge to improve COVID testing, volunteers clean up after explosion, and more reporting from Baltimore Brew, Politico, the Real News Network and others.



SELMA, ALABAMA - MARCH 01: Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) speaks to the crowd at the Edmund Pettus Bridge crossing reenactment marking 55th anniversary of Selma's Bloody Sunday on March 1, 2020 in Selma, Alabama. Mr. Lewis marched for civil rights across the bridge 55 years ago. Some of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates attended the Selma bridge crossing jubilee ahead of Super Tuesday. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Silencing marginalized voices is not ‘good trouble’
by Lisa Snowden-McCray
Published August 14 in The Real News Network

Excerpt: When Former President Bill Clinton spoke at Congressman John Lewis’ funeral last month, he used the occasion to discuss the very real ways that Lewis put his body on the line to make this country better. He noted in his speech that Lewis carried a backpack with him the day of Bloody Sunday—the 1965 Selma, Alabama clash named for a particularly violent attack on protesters by police. Lewis, he said, packed some fruit and a toothbrush and toothpaste.

He figured he’d be arrested.

This would have been a fine enough send off for a man who truly was an American hero. But there was this, too: Clinton discussed the events that helped shape Lewis’ character and cited Lewis’ loss to Kwame Ture for leadership of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (it should be noted here that Clinton identified Ture by his birth name, Stokely Carmichael, which Ture, inspired by African socialist leaders Kwame Nkrumah and Ahmed Sekou Toure, changed in 1978).

“I say there were two or three years there, where the movement went a little too far towards Stokely,” Clinton said, referring to Ture’s more strident Black Power politics. “But in the end, John Lewis prevailed.”

This line stung many on the left, who have watched the Democratic party as an organization contract, squeezing out diverse and marginalized voices in the wake of Trumpism and another rise in state sanctioned police violence — rather than expand.



The interior of the historic house built by Frederick Douglass that Greg Morton bought and renovated. The living room is decorated with curated artworks by Black artists from around the city. (Schaun Champion/For The Washington Post)

A Baltimore house once owned by Frederick Douglass has become a history lesson
by Christina Sturdivant Sani
Published August 17 in The Washington Post

Excerpt: After weeks of unrest in 2015 following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, many residents fled Baltimore. While distraught about the injustices taking place there, Greg Morton also saw an opportunity to do good. “I was like, ‘Oh man, I could probably go back to Baltimore and start some type of community redevelopment … then start like a mini Black town,’ ” says Morton, a Baltimore native who was living in New Jersey at the time.

His goal was to find a low-maintenance property that he could live and work in immediately. He ended up with much more: a home that celebrates Baltimore and Black culture while exemplifying the principles of its former owner, Frederick Douglass.

See also:

Living for a Living: Greg Morton, Art Collector and Owner of Frederick Douglass’s Fells Point Home
by Suzy Kopf, published August 9, 2019 at BmoreArt

As time goes by, Baltimore’s three-story solo rowhouses are disappearing
by Kenneth Dickerman and Ben Marcin, published August 19 in the Washington Post Photography Blog



Rep. Kweisi Mfume denounces the White House for undermining the postal service. With him, from the left, are U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, Mayor Jack Young, Rep. John Sarbanes and Senator Ben Cardin. (Louis Krauss)

Attacks on the post office undermine democracy, local leaders say
by Louis Krauss
Published August 17 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: Maryland political leaders and post office union representatives took turns harshly criticizing President Donald Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy today, denouncing what they called a direct attack on democracy by “sabotaging” the U.S. Postal Service.

Newly elected Congressman Kweisi Mfume gave the harshest critique of DeJoy, likening him to the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz who pretends to be great and powerful, but turns out to be a mortal man and a huckster.

“Mr. DeJoy, do us all a favor before your upcoming hearings: submit your letter of resignation now,” Mfume said across the street from Baltimore’s main post office. “Ride off into the sunset and restore the decency and fabric of the United States Postal Service.”

See also:

Problems With The U.S. Postal Service: What’s Really Happening?
by Tom Hall and Rob Sivak
Published in WYPR Midday



Nora Belblidia with her grandparents at Sidi Fredj, the point at which the French invaded Algeria in 1830 (Photo courtesy of Nora Belblidia)

The land that I forgot: From Algeria to the US, a story of family
by Nora Belblidia
Published August 17 in Al-Jazeera

Excerpt: My grandfather was arrested by the French in 1956. Or was it ’57?

He was at home for lunch one day, as he was every day at noon. My grandmother would have cooked couscous or chorba or khalota, the smell of semolina and cinnamon hanging in steamed air. A baguette would have sat at the centre of the table, with its soft belly and hard shell.

It was the Algerian War of Independence, and my grandfather, aged 30, was a member of the Front de Liberation Nationale, the FLN, the political party fighting against French colonialism. Everyone was in those days. That is how the story goes at least.

The police knocked on the door, and they took my grandfather away. Four months later, he came home with a head full of lice. C’est tout. “He never wanted to talk about it,” my dad says.

My dad likes to talk about things, to pass down stories as if they were family heirlooms. There is the family dog, a German Shepherd mutt, shot by French paratroopers. The former student who warned my great-grandfather he was on the French hit list and that my great-grandfather could no longer be protected. The wife who did not know her husband was also in the FLN and, fearing he might rat her out, threatened him with a knife. What colour was the knife, I wonder? Was it serrated or dull? Was it used to chop onions when it was not clenched in a woman’s fist?



A medical worker administers a Covid-19 test. | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

‘We’re going to get it done’: Governors mobilize to fill Trump’s testing gap
by Adam Cancryn
Published August 18 in Politico

Excerpt: To hear Maryland’s Larry Hogan and Virginia’s Ralph Northam tell it, the growing number of governors coming together to buy millions of rapid-response coronavirus tests is a direct response to the Trump administration’s failure to impose a national testing strategy.

“I’ve expressed my frustration,” the Republican Hogan said in an interview. “I don’t want to argue anymore after five or six months — now, we’re going to get it done.”

“We’ve had enough,” said the Democrat Northam, criticizing the “total disconnect” between the White House and the states. “We’ve been asked as governors to fight a biological war without supplies.”



Representatives of Housing Our Neighbors try to deliver a letter to homeless director Tisha Edwards. (Louis Krauss)

Two Housing Security Bills Introduced In Baltimore City
by Emily Sullivan
Published August 18 in WYPR

Excerpt: The Baltimore City Council held a virtual meeting Monday night, where two new bills that aim to bolster housing security as the coronavirus pandemic continues were introduced. WYPR’s Emily Sullivan and Nathan Sterner discuss an effort to establish a permanent housing voucher program and a potential ban on the city tax selling of homes that belong to people over the age of 65, people who are disabled and people with low incomes.

See also:

Bill to replace Office of Homeless Services comes before the Council
by Ian Round and Louis Krauss
Published August 18 in Baltimore Brew



Joe Raedle | Getty Images

State Applies for Extra $300 a Week in Federal Unemployment Benefits
by Bennett Leckrone
Published August 19 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: Marylanders who are unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic may soon be getting an additional $300 in federal assistance after additional benefits expired last month.

Maryland applied for a Federal Emergency Management Administration’s Lost Wages Assistance grant, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) announced Wednesday, which would provide an additional $300 a week to people who lost wages in the midst of COVID-19 shutdowns.

“Maryland is doing much better on our health metrics than most of the rest of the country, we are doing much better on our economic recovery than most of the rest of the country, and we want to do whatever it takes to keep it that way,” Hogan said in a statement. “But far too many Marylanders are still struggling to make ends meet during this pandemic. With this critical funding, we can help those struggling Marylanders weather this storm, get back on their feet, and recover.”


Rescue workers stand on the debris of a destroyed building after an explosion in a residential area of Baltimore, Maryland, U.S. August 10, 2020. REUTERS/Rosem Morton

Hundreds help clean up site of fatal Baltimore explosion
by the Associated Press
Published August 17 in PBS Newshour

Excerpt: Hundreds of community members in Baltimore helped clean up debris from the site of a gas explosion that killed two people and sent seven more to the hospital.

More than 400 people showed up to the northwest Baltimore neighborhood on Sunday to help clear away debris from the scene where three row homes were leveled, news outlets reported.

The blast on Aug. 10 trapped people in the debris and scattered shards of glass and other rubble through the neighborhood. More than 200 people were affected, and about 30 have had to utilize temporary shelter following the explosion, Baltimore Fire Department spokeswoman Blair Adams has said.

Councilman Isaac Schleifer organized the clean-up, where volunteers in green vests shoveled away dirt, swept debris into dumpsters and cleared yards and alleyways, news outlets said.

“This is Baltimore for you, you know we always turn out for each other, we’re always there for one another,” WJZ-TV quoted Schleifer as saying.



Image courtesy of CDC.

Maryland confirms lowest number of new COVID-19 cases since July
by Marcus Dieterle
Published August 19 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Maryland confirmed 414 more coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the lowest number of cases reported in one day since new cases reached 272 on July 6, according to data released by the state today.

At least 101,649 Marylanders have tested positive for COVID-19, while 1,074,119 have tested negative as of Wednesday morning, according to the Maryland Department of Health’s COVID-19 Case Map Dashboard.

The state’s coronavirus caseload increased by 0.4 percent.



DSA-backed challenger has a shot at Baltimore’s city council
Published August 19 in Real News Network

Excerpt: Educator Franca Muller Paz saw the way COVID-19 impacted her students and that inspired her third party run.

Header image: Baltimore, 2010. (Ben Marcin)

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