↑ Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Last week, the mayor announced that Baltimore is, and will continue to be, a safe space for immigrants and refugees, despite The Donald and his vitriol on the topic. As we all know by now, Trump fanned the flames of xenophobia during his campaign, saying that Mexico was sending criminals and rapists over the U.S. border and announcing he'd ban Muslim immigrants to the U.S. Rawlings-Blake's stance means that city police won't be checking people's citizenship status. It could also mean that the city will suffer financially, since Trump has said that he'd withhold federal funds from so-called "sanctuary cities." But hey, we thumb our nose at such threats, and the attendant rich man's assumption that he can fan a few bills in front of our face and we'll toss our ethics (and ethnic minorities) out the window. No collaborators here.
↑ Baltimore Transgender Alliance
A crowd of close to 200 gathered at the Ynot Lot this past Sunday, Transgender Day of Remembrance, for the Trans March of Resilience organized by the Baltimore Transgender Alliance. Amid chants of "our voice is power, silence is death" and "the gender system must be broken," the group marched, chatted, and encouraged one another as it traveled through the streets to 2640 Space. Inside the sanctuary, Baltimore Transgender Alliance's Ava Pipitone spoke, noting the death of trans people in 2016 (26 reported deaths—the deadliest year on record) but also highlighted that the day's march was to "unify, reclaim, and empower." What followed was a gathering with food, music, spoken-word, and performances—an expression of the multitudes contained in the trans community.
↓ Baltimore City Public Schools
Video surfaced on Nov. 17 showing a white teacher at Harlem Park Elementary/Middle forcibly ejecting one student and berating the rest of her classroom by yelling: "You're idiots. You have a chance to get an education. Do you wanna be a punk-ass nigger who's gonna get shot?" To be sure, the school system acted swiftly and appropriately, firing the teacher, bringing in counselors to talk with Harlem Park students, and holding a press conference in which Schools CEO Sonja Santelises admonished the teacher's outburst. "Every teacher in Baltimore City who might have a challenge with classroom management does not resort to the behavior that was demonstrated in that video," she said. Even so, the shocking video went viral, giving parents a glimpse of classroom management methods that relied on berating and denigrating students with a racist tirade. If one student hadn't thought to record the moment, who knows how long this teacher would have held onto her job.
Sgt. White, one of six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, went on an all-out press blitz recently, talking with various media outlets about the stress of the trials and her hope to return to work and serve the community where she grew up. On the advice of her attorney, White did not discuss the details surrounding Gray's death. But her attorney, Ivan Bates, did offer this to The Sun's Justin Fenton: "I don't understand why on earth she was charged; I've never understood why she was charged. Maybe from some standpoint you have three black officers, you have three white officers. Or maybe you wanted to make sure you charged a woman. Maybe you wanted to charge a black woman." White is allowed to have her say, of course, and at least she wasn't one of the officers who attended a right-wing conference to receive praise for her actions. But White remains one of five officers insisting on dragging this out further by suing State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby for defamation and invasion of privacy, so pardon us if we're not feeling terribly sympathetic.
↓ Baltimore Police
OK, so where to start with Baltimore cops this week? There's the press circuit tour from Alicia White (see above), and there's Timothy Rae George III, a Baltimore Police Officer accused of sexting with a 15-year-old, and there's the police's crime scene technician, Timika Jones, whose house was found to contain guns and heroin*. Then there's the new state-wide report on police traffic stops posted this week on Open Data Policing's website, which shows a disproportionate number of African-Americans are pulled over across Maryland. The site, however, does not contain data for Baltimore's traffic stops because the BPD declined to share it, complaining that its officers didn't have fancy computers in their cars to record this info electronically. Failing to collect or share the info is an omission that Open Data Policing notes is "out of compliance with the law." And shoot! Now we've run out of space to mention Wesley Cagle, the cop sentenced to 12 years in prison this week for calling a suspect a piece of shit and then shooting him in the groin.
*City Paper reported that the guns and drugs found in Jones' home were "stolen from crime scenes," which was inaccurate. City Paper regrets this error.