Baltimore News: Audio of Keith Davis Jr. Trials Released, Abortion Debate in MD, City Council Rejects $1 Homes

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This week’s news includes: Making the streets safe for Safe Streets, call for “State of Emergency” in Baltimore, abortion debate continues in State House, “Black Collagists: The Book” by Teri Henderson, and more reporting from The Trace, Baltimore Fishbowl, Real News Network, No Pix After Dark Podcast, and other local and independent news sources.



Campaign Zero's executive director DeRay Mckesson.—Ron Cassie

Campaign Zero Releases Audio of Courtroom Testimony from Keith Davis Jr. Trials
by Ron Cassie
Published March 8 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: Campaign Zero, the national nonprofit focused on ending police violence, released a video Monday that includes audio clips from several of the controversial trials of Keith Davis Jr.

After being shot and nearly killed by Baltimore police in 2015, Davis Jr. was acquitted of the armed robbery of an unlicensed cab driver when the driver testified police had the wrong man. After his acquittal, Davis Jr. was then indicted with the seemingly unrelated homicide of a Pimlico security guard the same day as the armed robbery—a murder charge the Baltimore City State’s Attorney Office has taken to trial an additional four times without success.

A fifth murder trial for Davis Jr., who has remained incarcerated since 2015, and sixth overall, is scheduled for May. Davis Jr. and his defense team have put forth the theory that the gun police say they recovered was planted to cover up the 30-plus rounds Baltimore officers fired at him as he hid in a small auto repair shop.



Sonia Eaddy (wearing black, with green jacket) standing with supporters outside her home on North Carrollton Avenue. (@organizepopple1)

City moves Eaddy house off Poppleton historic district map
by Fern Shen
Published March 8 in Baltimore Brew

Excerpt: After months of letter writing, rallies, petitions, videos and historical research, Poppleton residents trying to save their West Baltimore neighborhood from further displacement by a developer were finding reason for hope.

Working with the Scott administration, they had mapped out a historic district to protect rowhouses that have been the home to Black residents going back to the 1870s.

In December, Deputy Mayor Ted Carter had visited, promising “a win-win” solution to community members including Sonia Eaddy, who has been fighting to keep the city from seizing her house for more than a decade.

And in January, Mayor Brandon Scott pledged “a reset in regards to the redevelopment of Poppleton.”

In a letter to Poppleton Now, a community association, Scott wrote, “I am committed to doing everything I can to advance the redevelopment of Poppleton, and to do so in a truly collaborative, community-led and transparent process.”

But within weeks, according to residents, the winds shifted.



DaShawn McGrier, a Baltimore violence interruption worker who was killed in January. / Courtesy of Safe Streets Courtesy of Safe Streets

The Human Toll of Keeping Baltimore Safe
by J. Brian Charles
Published March 3 in The Trace

Excerpt: When a Baltimore Safe Streets worker gets killed on the job, men and women show up to remember them.

On January 22, a bitterly cold day, they came from all over the city: the Franklin Square and Sandtown-Winchester neighborhoods on the city’s west side. Brooklyn in South Baltimore. Cherry Hill and McElderry Park, the two sites where Safe Streets workers, who mediate disputes before they turn deadly, were killed in 2021.

They huddled along Monument Street outside the McElderry Park office to remember DaShawn McGrier, three days after the 29-year-old was gunned down alongside close friends in a triple homicide. McGrier had only recently started working with Safe Streets. At the memorial, Dante Johnson, site director for the Belair-Edison neighborhood, stopped and flicked on a bullhorn. “What do we want?” Johnson barked. “Safe streets!,” the crowd responded. “When do we want it?” “Now!”

The work to make Baltimore safe comes at a cost, a human toll. Safe Streets paid more than its share of that toll in the last year, and some people are asking a fundamental question about an approach that puts its staff directly in harm’s way: Is it worth it?



EP 167: BLACK COLLAGISTS FT Author & Curator Teri Henderson
by Aaron Dante
Aired February 21 on No Pix After Dark Podcast

Excerpt: Aaron interviewed author Teri Henderson about her new book titled, “Black Collagists: The Book”. We spoke about how she came up with the idea of the book and the process for writing and curating during the pandemic. This was her first book and now she wants to write and curate more books. You get to learn about 50 plus amazing Black artists in the book and see their work.  You can buy this book on Amazon, or locally in Baltimore. Representation Matters! Thank YOU for your time Teri.

IG: blackcollagists


Teri Henderson is a Baltimore-based independent curator, a staff writer for BmoreArt, and the Founding Director of Black Collagists. Henderson holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Texas Christian University. She formerly held a curatorial internship at Ghost Gallery in Seattle, Washington. Henderson previously served as the Art Law Clinic Director for Maryland Volunteer Lawyers For The Arts and is currently on their Board of Directors. Her written work has been seen in: BmoreArt, All SHE Makes, Artforum, Justsmile Magazine, Kinfolk Travel, and the St. James Encyclopedia of Hip Hop Culture. Teri Henderson was a curator of private acquisitions of Black collage art for the Doug + Laurie Kanyer Art Collection from 2020 – 2021, as part of her work she created the Black Collagists Arts Incubator, which was underwritten by the Doug + Laurie Kanyer Art Collection through November 2021. Black Collagists: The Book is her first book



Paraphernalia Bill Moves in the House as Moon and Carter Push to Decriminalize Personal-Use Drugs
by Hannah Gaskill
Published March 9 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: House and Senate lawmakers are making another attempt this session to limit criminal penalties for Marylanders who use illicit drugs.

House Judiciary Committee Vice Chair David Moon (D-Montgomery) and Sen. Jill P. Carter (D-Baltimore City) are supporting legislation to move first and second offenses for the possession of small quantities of controlled dangerous substances to civil rather than criminal offenses.

​​”Lowering penalties for possession of amounts of drugs too small to merit consideration in a court of law would bring our criminal justice system into the 21st century,” Jennifer Mendes Dwyer, deputy executive director of Progressive Maryland, said in a statement Tuesday.

During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Moon said the legislation is an “attempt to codify some personal use amount limit.” But he’d prefer it if lawmakers focus on the idea that a public health response is better than a carceral response for low-level, non-violent possession cases.

“We need to have a conversation about whether a criminal justice response is the appropriate one, so this is a first step to try and get us there,” Moon said.



From left: Security guards Traci Archable-Frederick, Rob Kempton, Bret Click, Dominic Mallari, Sara Ruark, Ricardo Castro, Alex Dicken, Kellen Johnson, Jess Bither, Chris Koo, Dereck Magnus, and Michael Jones. —Photography by Christopher Myers

Changing of the Guards
by Amy Scattergood
Published March 8 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: The last time the Baltimore Museum of Art was in the headlines (excluding director Christopher Bedford’s resignation announcement in February,) it was for the deaccessioning scandal that rocked the art community. So it must’ve been a happy surprise—maybe even a bit of a relief—when, last July, the museum announced its new “Guarding the Art” exhibit, and there was so much enthusiasm, it crashed the museum’s website.

It’s not so much the content of the new exhibit that makes it remarkable, though the works do come from the 108-year-old Charles Village institution’s world-class collection of over 95,000 objects, some of which have never been shown before—but rather those who have chosen it.

The exhibit, to be on display in two large galleries adjacent to the museum’s famed Cone Collection starting on March 27, is being curated by 17 of the museum’s security guards.

Ranging from a grandmother of nine to a Towson University senior majoring in classical voice performance, the participating museum guards bring a diversity of backgrounds and life experiences to this innovative exhibit. One guard is a former healthcare worker, another a bartender, another an adjunct instructor at the Maryland Institute College of Art, who teaches courses on horror movies. It’s these unique perspectives that the museum aims to put on display, along with the actual artworks.



Area 405, which houses the Station North Tool Library, more than 40 artists and more, has been sold to a partnership that plans to upgrade it and keep it affordable. Photo courtesy of Central Baltimore Partnership.

Area 405 arts hub sold to local partnership that plans to upgrade it, keep it affordable
by Ed Gunts
Published March 8 in Baltimore Fishbowl

Excerpt: Area 405, an artist hub and maker space in Baltimore’s Station North arts district, has been sold to a partnership that plans to upgrade it and continue operating it as an affordable artist community.

The new owner is 405-417 East Oliver Street Partners, a limited liability corporation formed by the nonprofit organization Central Baltimore Partnership and Baltimore-based real estate developer Ernst Valery. The transaction closed today and the sale price was $3.8 million.

Located at 405 East Oliver Street, the 120-year-old building is considered Baltimore’s largest hub of art studios and workspaces, housing more than 40 artists as well as an events and gallery space and the Station North Tool Library. Its fate has been uncertain since last year, when the previous owners disclosed plans to sell the 71,744-square-foot property. Artists feared they could be displaced if it were sold to a developer that wanted to raise rents or change its use.

In response, the Central Baltimore Partnership sought ways to keep Area 405 in operation and protect the current occupants from displacement. Its solution was to form a partnership with Valery to acquire and renovate the building for continued use as an arts hub and anchor for Greenmount West and the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.

The plan drew praise from Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott.



Sarah Y. Kim, WYPR

Abortion at the center of House debate
by Callan Tansill-Suddath
Published March 9 in WYPR

Excerpt: Two abortion bills were at the center of an hourlong debate in the House of Delegates Wednesday.

One bill, The Right to Reproductive Liberty, a state Constitutional amendment that would preserve a woman’s right to an abortion in Maryland, only faced one amendment.

Del. William Wivell, a Washington County Republican, proposed adding the word “preborn” to the bill.

Wivell argued the bill as written “allows for the destruction of the life of the preborn child and forever takes away the preborn child’s own right to reproduction.”

Del. Ariana Kelly, the floor leader for both bills, refuted this, saying “the voters had a say in this and the right to abortion care has been settled law since 1991.”

The amendment failed.



Baltimore City’s $1 Homes Proposal Rejected by City Council
by Brandon Soderberg
Published March 4 in The Real News Network

Excerpt: Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby’s $1 Homes program was voted down by council members last night, Thursday, Mar. 3.

The program would make vacants owned by the city available to longtime residents for just one dollar if they are able to repair and then live in the property themselves. Primary concerns about the bill were communicated to Battleground Baltimore back in November by City Hall sources; namely, that most Baltimoreans who could benefit from the program lack the funds to fully renovate homes and could end up owing money on a home they could not rehabilitate.

During last night’s hearing, Councilperson Odette Ramos stressed the need to ensure that “everyone who participates in this program isn’t going to be underwater.”

Grants to assist with repairs for those who want to enter the program only covered up to $25,000. It costs, by conservative estimates, $60,000-$100,000 to repair a vacant. Last night, an amendment to increase those repair grants to $50,000 was proposed and approved, but it did not help the bill itself pass.



Gubernatorial hopeful Rushern L. Baker III (D) and his running mate, Nancy Navarro (D), talk to reporters outside Northeast Market in Baltimore. Photo by Bruce DePuyt.

Baker Calls on Hogan to Declare Crime ‘State of Emergency’ in Baltimore
by Bruce DePuyt
Published March 4 in Maryland Matters

Excerpt: Gubernatorial hopeful Rushern L. Baker III criticized Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. in an unusually searing manner on Thursday, saying the state’s response to street violence in Baltimore has been lackadaisical because most crime victims are Black.

Standing outside Northeast Market, Baker (D) said he would impose a state of emergency immediately upon taking office next January, and he implored Hogan (R) to do so now.

“The governor today can declare a state of emergency and bring the resources in that the state has to bear,” Baker said. “He could do it this afternoon. He doesn’t need anybody’s permission.”

He said the state response would be much more robust if predominately white suburbs were seeing levels of bloodshed akin to Baltimore’s.

“If you had over 2,000 homicides over an eight-year period anywhere else, if this had been Howard County or Anne Arundel County or Montgomery County or any place else, if these were 2,000 white kids that had been killed, it would be an emergency.”



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