Occupy Baltimore try to erect schoolhouse

Maryland State Police sought Monday evening to work out a peaceful solution with Occupy Baltimore protesters who were building an encampment at the site of a proposed juvenile detention center in East Baltimore.

As troopers watched, several protesters began erecting a plywood structure — painted red and representing a schoolhouse — inside the fenced site at East Madison and Graves streets near the city's complex of jails and prisons.


But state police spokesman Greg Shipley said Occupy members were not permitted to erect a structure on the property, which is owned by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

When asked whether state police would make any arrests, Shipley said, "We certainly don't want to make arrests." The goal is to "work through this peacefully and calmly," he added.

Shipley said troopers were securing the area Monday when members of Occupy Baltimore pulled up and started moving materials over the fence.

Members arrived there to start the five-day "Schools Not Jails Occupation" after a rally at Central Booking on East Madison Street.

Casey McKeel, a member of Occupy Baltimore's legal team, said members were told that they were not allowed inside the fenced site. Regardless, the members plan to be there for five days, McKeel said.

Outside the fenced site, where a large tent was set up on the sidewalk, more than 60 members were chanting, "Money for jobs and education, not for mass incarceration."

Occupy members are coordinating the event with the Baltimore Algebra Project, a nonprofit 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.

Baltimore Sun reporter Alison Knezevich contributed to this article.