By Luke Broadwater and Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun
6:31 PM EST, January 30, 2013
A judge on Wednesday lifted a ban prohibiting political activist Kim A. Trueheart from entering City Hall — and she promptly returned to the building, where she attended the mayor's news conference.
At a District Court hearing Wednesday morning, Trueheart, 55, of Baltimore rejected a deal that would have put her misdemeanor trespassing and disorderly conduct charges on an inactive docket. Trueheart said she did nothing wrong and wanted the opportunity to be cleared of wrongdoing. District Judge Gregory Sampson, who lifted the ban, scheduled her trial date for March 14.
"I want to be completely exonerated," Trueheart said later. "I don't believe I've done anything unlawful."
Trueheart, a vocal critic of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's administration, was arrested and jailed last week as she tried to go into City Hall. Police officers told Trueheart that she'd been banned from the building for previous "disorderly" behavior.
At City Hall on Wednesday morning, protesters objected to the ban. Mike McGuire, 40, of Baltimore was one of six activists who held placards with Trueheart's photo at the weekly meeting of the Board of Estimates, the city spending panel.
"I was with Kim Trueheart a week ago when she was arrested trying to attend this very meeting," McGuire said. "As anyone who has been around City Hall knows, Kim is quite a fixture. With her banning from City Hall, and her subsequent arrest, she couldn't be here. We wanted to make sure she was present at least in spirit."
Rawlings-Blake, in Annapolis later in the day to attend the governor's State of the State address, said the ban "was a decision that the Police Department made."
"If it were up to me, the charges would have been dropped," she said.
A spokesman for Rawlings-Blake noted in an email that the mayor wasn't at City Hall when Trueheart was arrested last week. "The Police use their discretion to ensure a safe environment for city workers, public officials and citizens," wrote spokesman Ryan O'Doherty.
"The Mayor has always said City Hall is the people's building and everyone is welcome to attend public meetings. In this case, she thinks the charges should be dropped, but that's not her call because this was a police matter," he wrote. Regarding the protest on Wednesday, he wrote, "Everyone appreciated that they were respectful and not disruptive, that's all we can ask for."
At District Court on North Avenue, Trueheart's lawyer, J. Wyndal Gordon, asked Sampson to lift any restrictions preventing Trueheart from entering City Hall. When prosecutors said they had no objection, the judge agreed to do so.
"Common sense dictates your client act appropriately when she goes to public places," Sampson said.
Trueheart hugged supporters and then jumped into a car to ride to City Hall. She told a reporter she doesn't "need to be thrown in a jail cell" and believes "intelligent adults" can disagree civilly.
"Nobody in Baltimore City wants to have a conversation with me," Trueheart said. "They want to physically abuse me, which is truly twisted."
Minutes later, Baltimore police officers working security at City Hall waved her through the metal detectors, and Derrick Mayfield, a member of the mayor's detail, called Trueheart over for a quiet chat. Mayfield gave Trueheart his card. "So he is my personal police officer," she said.
She attended a 10:30 a.m. mayoral news conference about women's health. She took photos. The event went off without incident.
Administration and police officials have not said who ordered Trueheart banned from City Hall but have said it was not the mayor's doing. Top police officials have said they are investigating whether such a ban is legal.
Trueheart frequently speaks out at government meetings in Baltimore. She regularly attends sessions of the City Council, Board of Estimates and school board and testifies on a wide range of subjects. She sometimes loudly interrupts public officials as they speak.
According to the police report, Trueheart was asked Jan. 16 not to come back to City Hall by Lt. Rob Morris after she disrupted a Rawlings-Blake news conference.
Baltimore Sun reporter Erin Cox contributed to this article.
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