The News: The Anniversary of George Floyd’s Death, Suspect Arrested in Barksdale Homicide, Mosby Gives the Middle Finger

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This week’s Baltimore news includes: George Floyd remembered, new funding for those experiencing homelessness and for older adults to stay in their homes, and the State’s Attorney shows off another Baltimore bird, and more reporting from Maryland Matters, the Real News Network, WYPR, Baltimore Brew, and other local and independent news sources.



A Year After George Floyd’s Death, Biden Urges Congress to Act and Md. Lawmakers Reflect on State Reforms
by Laura Olson and Hannah Gaskill
Published May 25 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: A year after George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer, his family returned Tuesday to Washington, D.C., where lawmakers have been attempting to craft a bipartisan bill to overhaul the nation’s policing laws.

Congress failed to act by the anniversary of Floyd’s death — the deadline that President Joe Biden had urged lawmakers to meet.

Instead of signing legislation named for Floyd into law on Tuesday, the president met with Floyd’s family members in a private gathering at the White House.

Afterward, Biden said in a statement that he appreciates the “good-faith efforts” from lawmakers of both parties to pass “a meaningful bill,” and that he hopes they will get a measure to his desk quickly.

“We have to act. We face an inflection point,” said Biden, who met with Floyd’s family shortly after his killing last year and has spoken with them by phone several times. “The battle for the soul of America has been a constant push and pull between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart.”



To breathe or not to breathe: That should not be the only question.
by Dr. Zekeh S. Gbotokuma
Published May 25 in The AFRO

Excerpt: May 25, 2021 marks the first anniversary of George Floyd’s “I Can’t Breathe” moment, that is, his brutal and unjustified murder by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin while three other officers watched the crime without doing anything. That tragedy resulted in global mass protests, most of which were peaceful. The tragedy also resulted in the transformation of Black Lives Matter (BLM) into a global movement because of its leading role in the protests. Inarguably, the global protests – despite COVID-19 restrictions on super spreader gatherings – have been precious endorsements that gave additional visibility and momentum to and legitimized the USA-originated movement.

In commemoration of the United Nations 75th Anniversary last year – as global protests went on – I wrote an invited essay for the Federation of World Peace and Love (FOWPAL). In that essay, I invited my fellow ‘cosmocitizens’ to seize the “I Can’t Breathe” moment – 9 minutes 29 seconds to be precise – and use it as a teaching and learning moment. There was no excuse to miss a moment that shook the international community’s and humanity’s conscience. Undoubtedly, Floyd’s murder was a typical example of the flagrant violation of basic human rights by those who are supposed to enforce them. The Moment has led millions of people worldwide to react without delay. Protesters carried and displayed colorful and multilingual protest signs signifying their sympathy, solidarity, moral outrage, and the global nature of the protests that were reminiscent of the ones that led to the end of apartheid in South Africa.



Baltimore Police Make Arrest In Killing Of Dante Barksdale
by Emily Sullivan
Published May 20 in WYPR

Excerpt: Baltimore police have announced an arrest in the killing of prominent anti-violence activist and “the heart and soul of Baltimore” Dante “Tater” Barksdale, which rocked the city last January.

Police said they arrested Garrick L. Powell Jr., 28 on the 400 block of N Ellwood Ave in East Baltimore early Thursday morning. They declined to provide a motive, citing ongoing investigations, but said at a news conference that the killing did not appear to be random.

“Earlier this year, Dante Barksdale – the heart and soul of Baltimore – became a victim of the very gun violence he was determined to prevent. But thanks to the diligent work of the Baltimore Police Department, a suspect in Dante’s murder has now been apprehended,” Mayor Brandon Scott said at the news conference.



Battleground Baltimore: Madness from Marily Mosby’s Office
by Lisa Snowden-McCray and Brandon Soderberg
Published May 21 in The Real News Network

Excerpt: Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby lied this week, by way of the State’s Attorney’s official Twitter account, and that’s a big deal. Mosby was caught on video Wednesday putting her middle finger up at a resident who spotted her at downtown Baltimore restaurant Sandlot and yelled “Free Keith Davis Jr.” The video was quickly shared on social media. In response to a tweet from Davis’ wife, Kelly, someone from the SAO’s office tweeted out: “This is clearly a thumb guys – enough already. Let’s move on.”

The problem was that it was not just a thumb, as reporter Justine Barron pointed out via high-quality screenshots of the video—it was a middle finger.



With new funds to address homelessness on the way, old problems persist
by Fern Shen and Timothy Dashiell
Published May 29 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: At a City Council hearing on homelessness in Baltimore, many of the presentations were upbeat and forward-looking.

Officials testified about millions of federal dollars becoming available for affordable housing and homelessness assistance, the issuance of 278 new federal housing vouchers by the Housing Authority and the fact that the city’s contracts to house about 500 people in hotels will now run through September.

While homeless advocate Mark Council had praise for the Scott administration (“they did a tremendous job extending the hotel contracts”), he and other activists chided it for failing to correct long-standing issues.

“The city must implement common sense harm reduction techniques to reduce overdose deaths,” said Council, lead organizer at Housing Our Neighbors (HON).



New Bill Would Mandate City LGBTQ Affairs Office
by Emily Sullivan
Published May 21 in WYPR

Excerpt: Baltimore City Councilman Kristerfer Burnett wants to make the city’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs a permanent part of the government by amending the city charter to mandate its existence. Otherwise, city leaders could axe the current office, which consists of one unfilled role, at any time.

“If we are a city that really does value equity and inclusion, we need to codify these offices into the city code so that it’s the law of the land,” Burnett said. “The impetus was just to make sure that it is a part of the city government structure and not solely at the whim of whoever the mayor of Baltimore is at the time.”



Here are the First Two Vendors Moving Into the New Lexington Market Building
by Lauren Cohen
Published May 26 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: Before they met, got married, and became co-owners of flower shop Fleurs d’Ave on West North Avenue, Brandon and Ashley Wylie were both regulars at Lexington Market as kids.

“Both of our grandparents would always take us to the market,” Brandon says. “We used to do a lot of our shopping there.” Aside from taking in the sights, smells, and tastes of staple food vendors, Brandon also, interestingly, remembers making requisite stops to pick up arrangements from the market’s flower purveyors.

Now, the couple’s connections to the 239-year-old community fixture—the longest continuously operating public market in the country—are coming full circle.

After two application rounds that brought in more than 300 entries, development firm Seawall and the Transform Lexington team have selected the final 40-plus vendors that will set up shop inside the new Lexington Market when it opens in early 2022. Among them will be Fleurs d’Ave and mainstay sausage and snowball stall Sausage Master. Taking a staggered approach, Seawall plans to continue announcing two vendors on a bi-monthly basis for the rest of the year.



“A matter of life and death”: $9.6M to repair homes for older adults will build communities, improve health, officials say.
by Marcus Dieterle
Published May 26 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Baltimore City government and nonprofit organizations are contributing $9.6 million to repair and modify homes of older adults through the Housing Upgrades to Benefit Seniors (HUBS) program, Mayor Brandon Scott announced on Wednesday.

The investment will help make homes safer for older adults, and allow aging residents to remain part of their communities, Scott said.

“Every person has the right to age with dignity in the comfort and security of their own home in their neighborhood of their choosing, and we all have a responsibility to make this a reality for older Baltimoreans,” he said.



Meet Everdura, a Latin American grocery delivery service that launched this month in Baltimore
by Stephen Babcock
Published May 26 in Baltimore

Excerpt: A grocery delivery service that recently launched in Baltimore is delivering Latin American groceries to homes.

Ecommerce platform Everdura launched in the city this month with 50 products, as well as produce variety boxes and meal kits.

Founded by Liz Nunez and Emily Miller, the company was a product of the pandemic. Born in the Dominican Republic, Nunez moved to upstate New York during quarantine and found that there wasn’t immediate access to the food she grew up eating, like plantains and yucca. It reminded her of time during school in Philly, when she had to drive half an hour to a grocery store that had the goods that were so important to her culture. And this came even as the services that brought groceries directly to homes were growing.

“If you can get grocery delivery from all of these different sources … why can’t you get these goods?” Nunez said. “There’s a very clear gap in the ecommerce experience for these kinds of products.”



She Built a Baltimore Restaurant Empire, but She Still Works the Stove
by Brett Anderson
Published May 25 by The New York Times

Excerpt: Cindy Wolf is a rarity — a seasoned chef focused on her flagship and a style of white-linen dining that’s been endangered by the pandemic.

“I love living in Baltimore,” Ms. Wolf said. “But let’s be honest — food people don’t think this is a sexy place to visit.”

No one has done more to change that perception than Ms. Wolf and Tony Foreman, her business partner and former husband. They own six restaurants in Baltimore, with another, the Milton Inn, due to open in a suburb later this year. The executive chefs at all of her restaurants have cooked at Charleston, and she mentored all of them from a young age.

Still, Ms. Wolf has never made the transition that so many of her peers have, from the stove to a corporate figurehead who delegates the cooking.




“Who Is This Monster?”
by Catherine Rentz
Published May 20 in ProPublica

Excerpt: Rose Brady walked alone between bus stops on a busy street in Baltimore County one evening in April 1987. She was 28, with long, curly brown hair and blue eyes — perfect prey for the predator local police had named the “Sunglass Rapist.”

She hoped so, anyway.

Brady worked for the Baltimore County Police Department and had just been promoted to corporal. When she signed on in 1977 at age 18, she had been one of only 15 female officers in a department of about 1,100. Within a year, though, she’d shown her value, going undercover to help take down a pimp operating out of massage parlors. She had met the suspected pimp with no gun, no cellphone, no wire. Supervisors told her and another female cadet working with her to throw a glass ashtray out the window if he started to make trouble.



:: BONUS ::

‘Vulture’ Fund Alden Global, Known For Slashing Newsrooms, Buys Tribune Papers
by David Folkenflik
Published May 21 in NPR

Excerpt: The New York-based hedge fund Alden Global Capital – known for slashing its newspapers’ budgets to extract escalated profits – won shareholder approval Friday for its $633 million bid to acquire the Tribune Publishing newspaper chain.

The purchase represents the culmination of Alden’s years-long drive to take over the company and its storied titles – including the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, New York Daily News and major metro papers from Hartford, Conn., to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Alden’s reputation as a “vulture” fund had set off a frantic effort by union members in Tribune Publishing newsrooms. Their organizer, Baltimore Sun education reporter Liz Bowie, dubbed the effort “Project Mayhem.” The journalists tried to secure potential buyers in numerous Tribune markets who embraced the public-minded aspirations of journalism, including the Maryland philanthropist and hotel magnate Stewart Bainum Jr.



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