A group of labor leaders, including the head of the city police and fire unions, sent a letter to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake today asking her not to remove Occupy Baltimore protesters but instead continue dialogue.
"Rather than create a confrontation, we believe it would be wise for the city of Baltimore to act with restraint and responsibility," the letter says. "Rather than remove the protesters, we call upon the city to work with representatives of Occupy Baltimore to find a solution that can maintain the protest location and respect the rights of our citizens."
The letter is signed by the heads of the city's major unions - including various AFSCME chapters, the Baltimore Teachers Local 340, Fraternal Order of Police, Fire Fighters Local 734 and Fire Officers Local 964, and the City Union of Baltimore Local 800 - who say they support the purpose of the protest.
Here's the full letter:
"Dear Mayor Rawlings-Blake:
We have been made aware of the city of Baltimore's intention to close down the Occupy Baltimore site sometime in the next 24 hours. We write to express our firm opinion that nothing be done to close down the site and that instead, an agreement be arrived at which allows for the continuation of a peaceful, non-violent demonstration.
The Occupy Baltimore protests have given expression to a widely shared belief that our economy and our politics are controlled by corporate interests to the detriment of the overwhelming majority of working people, including our members, their families and communities. We share this opinion and applaud the courage and sacrifice of the Occupy protestors. We believe these protestors should be commended for standing up for the 99% of us, not threatened with removal.
Cities across the country - from San Diego to Little Rock, Philadelphia and Washington DC - have worked with their local Occupy movements to find reasonable accommodations that everyone can live with. Surely, the city of Baltimore can find a solution that meets the concerns of city officials and departments while allowing the protestors to continue their democratic right to peaceful, non-violent protest.
The Occupy Baltimore activists have made a broad call for followers to converge on McKeldin Square in order to defend the occupation tonight. Rather than create a confrontation, we believe it would be wise for the city of Baltimore to act with restraint and responsibility. Rather than remove the protestors, we call upon the city to work with representatives of Occupy Baltimore to find a solution that can maintain the protest location and respect the rights of our citizens.
We look forward to your quick response.
Ernie Grecco, President, Metro Baltimore Council AFL-CIO
Glen Middleton, Executive Director, AFSCME 67
Anthony Coates, AFSCME Local 647-67
Peggy Peacock, AFSCME Local 2202-67
Ms. Johnnie Phipps, AFSCME Local 558-67
Lorretta Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer, AFT
Mariette English, President, Baltimore Teachers Local 340
Brenda Clayburn, President, City Union of Balto Local 800
Steve Fugate, President, Fire Officers Local 964
Rick Hoffman, President, Fire Fighters Local 734
Jimmy Gittings, President, Public School Administrations and Supervisors Association Local 25
Rod Easter, President, Balto Building Trades Council
Bob Cherry, President, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3