Police Reform Advocates
A state legislative task force announced 22 proposed reforms to the police disciplinary process. State Del. Curt Anderson of Baltimore called the potential overhaul "monumental." Among the changes, which the legislature will debate: making officers accused of wrongdoing speak to investigators promptly, increasing the time alleged victims of brutality have to file a lawsuit, and opening to public scrutiny the "trial board" process through which cops are disciplined. Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis called a press conference to announce changes he's already made to the city department, including new internal affairs investigators and a proposal to live-stream video of the city's trial board.
The Baltimore Museum of Art
The BMA announced last week that it will be hosting the first major exhibition exploring the influence of Henri Matisse on American artist Richard Diebenkorn, a leader of the Bay Area figurative movement in California during the '50s and '60s. Featuring 90-plus pieces, "Matisse/Diebenkorn" will open this October. Matisse and Diebenkorn aren't the only big names on the BMA's schedule this fall: In September, the Contemporary Wing's Front Room will be taken over by the Guerrilla Girls, the masked feminist vigilante artist collective, known for 30 years of protest art criticizing the overwhelming dominance of white males in museums, galleries, Hollywood, and politics.
Continuing fallout from the hung jury in the trial of Officer William G. Porter, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals postponed the trial of Caesar R. Goodson, Jr., the next police officer accused in Freddie Gray's death, saying Porter cannot (yet, at least) be compelled to testify. Mosby's team says Porter's absence would gut the prosecution; Porter's lawyers say forcing him to testify, even with the limited immunity Judge Barry G. Williams granted, would violate Porter's right not to incriminate himself. The high court has 90 days to make the call, and Mosby's hope of a succession of quick trial victories is dashed.
The $6.4 million that the city agreed to pay Freddie Gray's family has been held up by some political wrangling. The mayor clashed with the City Council's Budget and Appropriations Committee last week when two very different expenditures were lumped together as one item. Nestled together in a bill to pay the Gray family settlement was a second, more problematic demand; $RB slipped in an ask for $2 million to hire a Washington, D.C.-based law firm to help defend the city's beleagured police department which is being investigated by the Justice Department. $RB called the $2 million payout a "wise investment." Holding out one hand for the Freddie Gray settlement while holding out the other to fight costly police reform? Impolitic, at best, underhanded, at worst.
On Jan. 9, Robert Ponsi was biking home in the Waverly neighborhood when he was surrounded by a group of teens. Ponsi tried to fend off the group but was attacked and stabbed. He died shortly the next morning. Three teenagers have been charged in his death. The attack on Ponsi highlights what cyclists and advocates have been saying for years: Biking in the streets of Baltimore can be dangerous. In addition to everything that comes with sharing the road with automobiles, riders face the prospect of having things thrown at them or being attacked, like Ponsi. Local activist group BikeMore has said it will continue to work with police to make the area safer for cyclists, but people riding bikes will likely continue to feel they're easy targets.