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Activist 'upset and disappointed' by City Hall ban

Activist Kim Trueheart, a vocal critic of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's administration who was arrested and jailed Wednesday after trying to enter City Hall, said Thursday that she was dismayed that police officers would attempt to keep a citizen from a public building.

"I'm upset and disappointed in the police force of Baltimore City," said Trueheart, 55, who was released early Thursday morning. "One of the supervisors said City Hall is a private building and I have trespassed on a private building. City Hall is a public building."

She faces charges of trespassing, disorderly conduct and failing to obey an officer's command. Police officers assigned to City Hall told Trueheart on Wednesday that she'd been banned from the building for previous "disorderly" behavior.

Administration and police officials could not immediately identify who had ordered the officers to prevent Trueheart from entering, and top police officials said they were investigating whether such a ban was legal.

"I'm home ... Thank you lord!!!" Trueheart posted at 5:03 a.m. on Twitter, where she has an active presence and more than 600 followers. She is scheduled to appear in Baltimore District Court at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Trueheart took issue Thursday with charging documents, which alleged that she was attempting to disobey officers' commands that she leave City Hall. Rather, Trueheart said, she was walking out the door, having agreed to leave, when she was arrested.

"Five of them jumped me as I was leaving out the door," Trueheart said. "I had already decided to leave."

One citywide elected official condemned Trueheart's treatment. Frank M. Conaway, clerk of the Circuit Court and former candidate for mayor, sent out a news release in which he objected to the ban.

"I can't imagine myself barring people or having them arrested as long as they are not misbehaving," he said in the release. "I hope that City officials will study their arrest and barring procedures and have an open policy for all citizens. Apologies should go out to those people that were arrested and not admitted to our City Hall."

Trueheart frequently speaks out at government and education meetings in Baltimore. She regularly attends sessions of the City Council, Board of Estimates and school board, and testifies on wide-ranging subjects.

In the past, she has spoken out against tax breaks for developers, the sale of the Senator Theatre and cellphone towers on city school buildings. She also has collaborated with council members on legislation and participated in council workshops on auditing. It is not unusual for her to confront public officials with questions or interrupt politicians as they're speaking.

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, though she was not arrested or charged with a crime. On Wednesday, "Ms. Trueheart refused to leave the location when asked several times to and warned," Officer Samuel Thomas wrote in his report. "Ms. Trueheart was then placed under arrest."

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