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Occupy Baltimore considering new sites, including youth jail, endangered post office

ActivismDemonstrationInner Harbor

Since Baltimore police ousted the members of Occupy Baltimore from their encampment at the Inner Harbor's McKeldin Square last week, the activists have been deliberating about where -- and whether -- to continue a physical encampment.

Jessica Lewis, a member of the Occupy Baltimore media team, said the activists are considering several locations that could provide a symbolic backdrop.

One option, Lewis said, is for Occupy Baltimore members to move their encampment to the site of the state's new proposed juvenile jail in East Baltimore, off East Madison Street, between Graves and Forrest Streets. About $14 million has already been spent on planning, design, demolition and site preparation for the new youth jail, which will be located on a piece of state-owned land already home to several prisons. The most recent construction bid for the jail was $69 million, officials said, although rising gas prices could drive up the cost of materials. Earlier cost estimates were $100 million.

Another option, Lewis said, is for Occupy members to move to a location near Franklin Post Office in West Baltimore. The post office, located at 2401 Ashton St., is one of eight post offices in the city in danger of being closed down amid federal cutbacks. Occupy Baltimore will be participating in an event at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at the location called "Christmas Miracle: Save the Franklin Post Office."

“A bunch of ideas have been thrown around, but nothing has been landed on yet,” Lewis said of choosing a new site.

Members of Occupy Baltimore had camped at McKeldin Square for about 10 weeks, when they were evicted by police in riot gear on Dec. 13. Nevertheless, the group is remaining active and continuing to hold 8 p.m. meetings at the square. The protesters, which advocate social justice and oppose economic inequality, will hold a "Save The Rec Centers" strategy meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. at 2640 St. Paul St., designed to coordinate activists opposed to the closing and privatizing of city recreation centers.

 “We’re trying to get together anyone with an interest in keeping rec centers open and in public hands,” Lewis said, “so they won’t work individually on this and we can have a serious intervention.”

Luke.Broadwater@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/lukebroadwater

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