Since the Baltimore Uprising, the murmurs have been that the protest movement here has weakened—in part because many activists have found other ways to effect change. However, last week, following the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the city came out, especially to a Friday night protest organized by the People's Power Assembly and Saturday's Operation Shut It Down put together by Gary Johnson and Terry Simms. These spontaneous and organic protests were inspiring and intentional as they moved through the downtown area calling attention to the cause and traversing the city's fancy downtown.
↑ Larry Hogan
Hey, mark the date! City Paper is giving the Governor a boost in power rankings. Larry Hogan rose slightly in our esteem this week because he's at the cutting edge of a salutary trend in the GOP, announcing that he would not be voting for Donald Trump. This put him at odds with Maryland's Republicans—good. He also won't attend this year's Republican National Convention in Cleveland, he said. He's opting to check out the annual all-you-can eat seafood feast in Crisfield instead. Kudos to Boss Hög, who knows a loser when he sees one, and extra points for deciding to stuff his face with seafood—a very Maryland rebuke to the Donald and the RNC—instead.
↑ Baltimore Police
Following the murder of five cops in Dallas, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis released a sensitive and heartfelt statement noting that anti-police brutality protests have nothing to do with the violence. And as Baltimore marched for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile over the weekend, the BPD for the most part was patient and expertly de-escalated things as moments of tension arose. In particular, the work of Lts. Russell, Shorter, Proctor, and Rhoden should be lauded. Although there were four arrests at Friday night's protests—all of which City Paper reporters observed and all of which seemed unnecessary—we witnessed a particularly mindful police force during a week in which other cities responded to peaceful protest with riot gear.
Last week, the Baltimore Police announced a dirt bike task force—an official extension of the dirt bike crackdown City Paper began reporting on last summer in which the city's dirt bike community was heavily surveilled and followed by police copters (dirtbiking is illegal within city limits). In particular, Commissioner Kevin Davis framed it as a public safety issue and then rather speciously suggested that dirt bike and gun violence were deeply intertwined. His evidence: arrests and a video of a dirtbiker cleaning off a gun. Dirtbiking cannot continue on as it currently exists—especially after a series of violent attacks by dirt bikers—but vilifying and arresting the community is not going to solve the problem.
↓ State's Attorney's Office
The trial for the fourth officer accused in Freddie Gray's death, Lt. Brian Rice, began last week with much of the same 'ol same 'ol. Prosecutors called many of the same witnesses and asked many of the same questions. They also made another discovery-related mistake, this time regarding 4,000 pages of information related to Rice's training, shared with the defense just days before the trial started. Prosecutors argued that it wasn't their fault—they'd requested the information a long time ago but the police department dragged its feet. Judge Barry Williams wasn't buying it, and ruled that the information couldn't be used in trial. More mistakes and missteps for the SAO.