⬆︎ Mohamed Tall
City Paper has previously written about Mohamed Tall, the poet who is just one of several great young writers to come out of the city's burgeoning poetry scene. Last week, Tall won a competition to become the city's Youth Poet Laureate. His winning performance included a poem about dismantling capitalism (a few lines: "Witnessing the bloody aftermath capitalism leaves behind/ And when you're left behind/ The machine says you're fine/ Then takes your struggle/ And tries to refine/ like sugar/ It's a domino effect") and a reference to Mayor Catherine Pugh's veto of the $15 minimum wage bill. This was in City Hall, ya'll. Tall is a talent worth watching, and we look forward to seeing what he does next.
Beginning in October, Maryland survivors of rape will not be required to prove that they tried to fight off their attackers. Yeah, we know how—was that ever a requirement? Last week, Gov. Hogan signed a bunch of bills that are supposed to make prosecuting rape cases less, well, nearly impossible. In addition to the aforementioned measure, others erase the distinction between vaginal rape and other forms of sexual assault, prevent rape kits from being destroyed for at least 20 years, and expand the definition of sexual abuse to include child sex trafficking. The new laws are a huge victory for survivors, but there is still work to be done: For one thing, when a child is conceived during an assault, survivors are still unable to terminate the parental rights of their rapist.
⬆︎ Tubman House
To commemorate the two-year anniversary of the death Freddie Gray, the Tubman House—an "illegally"-occupied, city-owned building-turned Community Center—along with Friend of a Friend Coalition, Coalition Of Concerned Mothers, and many more gathered at Mount and Presbury streets for a "Spirit Of Rebellion" block party and West Wednesday demonstration. The relatively intimate affair (about 50 people), which included an appearance by Mama C, formerly of the Kansas City chapter of the Black Panthers, culminated in a vigil for Freddie Gray with lit candles and released balloons and shouts of Gray's nickname, "Pepper." Last week, there was concern that the Tubman House would be demolished, but that has been thankfully put on hold for at least a little while longer. The city needs this place.
⬆︎ Lenny's Delicatessen
The Lombard Street institution in the part of the city known as Corned Beef Row closed its doors over the weekend after 26 years in business. Once the news broke, Baltimoreans started lining up to get the deli's signature corned beef sandwich for the last time. The closure even saddened the people at Attman's, the deli just down the block that was ostensibly one of the biggest competitors for Lenny's. "We hate to lose a fellow delicatessen there, and we've been partners in the delicatessen world," Attman's owner Marc Attman told The Sun. It's not all bad news, though. The building now provides a temporary space for the Helping Up Mission, an organization that serves 1,200 meals a day to the homeless. And Lenny's flagship in Owings Mills and the Lenny's stall in the Horseshoe Casino will remain open.
We've been watching Mayor Catherine Pugh's first steps as the city moves to repair the broken ties between community members and police, and we're not thrilled. First, we didn't know the mayor had officially appointed anyone to the Civilian Review Board (a police oversight committee) until last Thursday, the day they were supposed to first meet. Details about the appointment process were hard to come by; the mayors office ignored many of our requests for information. The Sun reported that several nominees were asked not to publicly comment on their nominations, something Pugh's office has denied, and one member has rejected his nomination. If the mayor says she's committed to police reform, that means tackling systemic racism, stubborn thinking, and a powerful police union. It also means a commitment to transparency and having your shit in order, right?