Baltimore City Power Rankings: DeRay, Kurt Schmoke, Baltimore County Police, and more

DeRay Mckesson

Activist, former mayoral candidate, and current director of human capital for Baltimore City Public Schools DeRay Mckesson was arrested in Baton Rouge last month during a protest over the police killing of Alton Sterling. This week, Mckesson joined two others in filing a federal class action suit against Baton Rouge cops, alleging that he and hundreds of others were illegally arrested for protesting. At the time of his arrest, some wet sandwiches from Baltimore asked why he was down there in the first place instead of here working for the schools. But isn't this how someone with Mckesson's fame and clout should wield it: call attention to injustice and be the voice for those who don't have the time or resources to challenge a police brutality?

→ Baltimore Police

The department announced two murder arrests last week, and released a statement declaring its "absolute capacity to hold police officers accountable." The statement came in the wake of the felony assault conviction of 15-year veteran Officer Wesley Cagle, who shot an unarmed burglar in the groin after he had already been shot by other officers and presented no threat. Two fellow officers testified that Cagle, who faces at least five years in prison, bragged about shooting Michael Johansen "in the balls." A week after State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby dropped all remaining charges against the six officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray, the Cagle case "serves as a reminder to our community that police officers in Baltimore are willing to step up when they see something they know is wrong," the department said in an email. All to the good. Here's hoping the department continues to do so, and to support officers who speak up, until there are no more officers acting like this one did.

↓ Kurt Schmoke

Speaking on a panel at the National Urban League's conference, which was in town last week, former mayor Schmoke said, "the thing that is holding us down so much is not police abuse, it is black-on-black crime." Other speakers were quick to point out that is true of most crime; victim and perpetrator share the same race because we live in a pretty segregated world. White-on-white crime is most prevalent in white communities, after all. Speakers chided Schmoke for failing to consider how other factors—poverty, education, jobs—impact neighborhoods and their attendant crime rates. It's not new that some people still point to black-on-black crime as a reason to stop the fight against police brutality—but it's disheartening to hear it come from the city's first elected black mayor.

↓ Boss Hög

Ol' Boss Hög is at again. On Aug. 3, the governor's money man, Budget Secretary David R. Brinkley, announced that the Boss would withhold $80 million of spending authorized by the General Assembly because revenue is off. Two programs that are now lacking crucial funds: public schools, which needed $19 million to cover staff pensions, and the Safe Streets Program, a community group working to reduce violence here in the city. Baltimore's health commissioner, Dr. Leana S. Wen, pointed to the success of Safe Streets and said the loss of $1 million "is effectively a death sentence for our life-saving program." As for the schools, the ACLU of Maryland has asked Governor Hög to transfer $5 million in private school vouchers to public schools. Meanwhile, over on Facebook, Hög referred to the schools controversy as "phony 'cut' propaganda from the union thugs." Keeping it classy.

↓ Baltimore County Police

Baltimore County Police have a lot to answer for after they killed 23-year-old Korryn Gaines last week. First: Who did it? The department has declined to name the officer involved in the incident, citing safety concerns. They haven't had a problem releasing all the information they have about Gaines and her boyfriend, though. Also: How could a warrant for a traffic infraction lead to a death? And how could such a tragic incident happen in front of a 5-year-old child? Four days after the incident, they reported that the child was shot in the cheek, not the arm, as they had originally reported—and that they "believe" the shot that hit the boy came from one of the officers. It's a mess all around.

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