⬆︎ Ryan Dorsey and Brandon Scott
Using the City Paper's Facebook page as a platform, District 3 Councilman Dorsey roasted a comment about cops being the "people who take care of this city." Eighty percent of Baltimore police officers live outside the city, Dorsey said, and the taxpayers who fund their salaries don't get much of a say in negotiations for the officers who "beat, abuse, and kill the people who actually live here." A likely unintended consequence: Dorsey's post got Commissioner Kevin Davis, who tweeted that the statements were "disrespectful and demeaning," to align with the FOP. With this and Councilman Brandon Scott walking out of a meeting on the city's violence because those in charge of creating a plan appear to have none, it's great to see people in power demanding accountability.
⬆︎ Cindy Cheng
In our coverage of this year's Janet and Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize finalist exhibition, we pondered what it means to make art right now and to be awarded a prize for it—and the individualism that this cycle might promote. That doesn't mean we didn't, you know, actually enjoy looking at much of the seven finalists' work on display at the Walters Art Museum, including Baltimore artist Cindy Cheng, who was selected by three New York jurors to take home the $25,000 prize last weekend. After the announcement on Saturday night, Cheng told the Sun, "You apply for things like this, and you just don't think you're going to get that far." Cheng's tactile world-building and playful formalism were an energizing and much-needed respite from the garbage-fire world we live in presently.
⬇︎ The Federal Hill Hospitality Association
As an association run by several owners of lucrative bars in the city's designated drinking district, the Federal Hill Hospitality Association mostly operates as a local business booster. But last week the group's Twitter account sent out a series of tweets urging people not to give change to the panhandlers in the neighborhood, where most houses start at about a quarter of a million dollars. Even more suspect was the hashtag that accompanied them, "#reclaimBALTIMORE." That led to an obvious question, which many on social media were willing to ask the group: "Reclaim what from who?" Their response was to double down and tweet out a screengrab of the dictionary definition for "reclaim." Here's something we suggest they look up: "dog-whistle politics."
⬇︎ The Western Police District and Scott Plank
The Western is being refurbished nicely with new locker rooms, sports equipment, a lobby and entranceway, and a public meeting room. These are great improvements, and kudos to Plank and his wife, Dana DiCarlo, for quarterbacking this $4.5 million charity effort. But let's also think: Who paid, and how much? These details were not available several days after the unveiling, despite repeated inquiries. And what is up with all the corporate-developer sloganeering, the reference to "customers," including those in handcuffs? We want to like and trust the city's civic benefactors—we really do—but the whole scenario of the local billionaire directly rebuilding a police station with tax-exempt funds and sticking an Under Armour logo as big as the BPD logo leaves us feeling queasy.
There's currently legislation supported by Mayor Pugh and Commissioner Davis and some in City Council for a mandatory-minimum sentencing of one year for charges related to illegal handguns. This throwback to war on drugs-style policing is a terrible idea and plenty of studies show how putting more people in jail tends to make crime worse. As Leaders Of A Beautiful Struggle said in an op-ed: "We think this bill is a tremendously short-sighted approach to stemming violence in Baltimore. This 'one-size-fits-all' approach leads to severe unintended consequences (e.g. targeting those trying to protect themselves as opposed to violent criminals, constructive possession traps innocent people who had nothing to do with the weapon, etc)." But hey, the law and order types will eat it up and it makes it look like the city's doing something about gun violence, right?