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Baltimore city councilman criticizes police for posing with anti-abortion activists

Anti-abortion activists painted "Black Preborn Lives Matter" in the 300 block of N. Howard St. near a Planned Parenthood center, early on Saturday morning.
Anti-abortion activists painted "Black Preborn Lives Matter" in the 300 block of N. Howard St. near a Planned Parenthood center, early on Saturday morning. (Jonathan Pitts / Baltimore Sun)

Anti-abortion activists gathered this weekend to paint “Black Preborn Lives Matter” outside a Baltimore Planned Parenthood, and as they worked in the dark early morning hours, city police officers arrived to monitor the demonstration.

At one point, according to photos from the event, a group of uniformed officers posed with activists while holding shirts that spread their message.

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Democratic City Councilman Ryan Dorsey said that violates department policy, which states on-duty officers are barred from participating in political activity.

Dorsey, a vocal critic of city police, tweeted at the department: “Since when is it acceptable for uniformed officers to engage in this type of demonstration, and presumably while on the clock, nonetheless? Answer: It’s not acceptable.”

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He said he flagged the photos Tuesday night to Commissioner Michael Harrison.

The police department did not respond Thursday to a request for comment.

The photos were shared online by Christopher Anderson, a Republican running for City Council in Baltimore’s 7th District. He wrote in a tweet that “Black Lives really matter to Conservatives,” and “even the cops joined in with us” as the group sought to spread its anti-abortion message.

The demonstration, organized by Students for Life of America and other anti-abortion groups, mirrored others that have unfolded in the city and across the country in recent months. Activists have painted “Black Lives Matter” and “Black Trans Lives Matter” across major city streets.

“The police were gracious when handed a T-shirt but did not participate in anyway,” Kristi Hamrick, of Students for Life of America, wrote in an email. “They did their jobs and did not stop the free speech we planned.”

Dorsey said he was also critical of Baltimore officers for raising their fists and kneeling during protests against police brutality and racism earlier this year, sparked by the video of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, killing him.

When Baltimore police showed their support of protesters then, Dorsey said, it was “phony" given the department’s documented patterns of unconstitutional policing.

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