As Maryland State Police watched, protestors began erecting a plywood structure — painted red and labeled "school" — on the site near the city's complex of jails and prisons. About 50 protestors were at the site by late afternoon.
The "Schools Not Jails Occupation" began with a rally at Central Booking on East Madison Street, according to an e-mail from Casey McKeel, a member of Occupy Baltimore's legal team. The protesters then moved to the site of the proposed jail, where they want to stay until Saturday morning.
"The encampment is open to anyone willing to act with openness and respect," McKeel wrote. "While a core group of individuals have committed to keeping a 24-hour presence at the site throughout the week, organizers hope the encampment will grow over the course of the five days, and encourage the participation of all residents of the city of Baltimore at the workshops and teach-ins throughout the week."
The Occupy members are coordinating the event with the Baltimore Algebra Project, a non-profit group that works to improve public education. The groups say money allocated for the jail should instead be spent on education and youth-recreation programs.
In December, the city evicted Occupy Baltimore protesters during an early-morning raid at McKeldin Square, where the activists had been staying for about 10 weeks.