Archive for April 30, 2015

Interesting Links: Apr 30, 2015

April 30, 2015 4 comments

Here are links to some interesting news articles that I came across today. These are also about the unpleasant and often ignored realities fueling the current round of mass protests in Baltimore.

Link 1: The Clock Didn’t Start With the Riots

That’s federal policy. It’s not just a matter of private evil individuals. We get this picture of these white racists walking around with horns, you know, who use the “n-word” all the time, and I guess look like Cliven Bundy. That’s what we’re looking for, for a bunch of Cliven Bundys. But Cliven Bundy has never really been the threat; it’s the policy that’s the threat. And many of those people, are people who look like you and me—or maybe not quite like me—but who are like me in terms of they’re human beings. They’re mothers and fathers—good people, nice to their neighbors, but these are people who are responsible for policies in our country that leave us where we are.

Link 2: Baltimore public defender speaks out against brutal holding cell conditions

The holding cells were approximately 10 x 10 (some slightly larger), with one open sink and toilet. The women were instructed that the water was “bad” and they shouldn’t drink it. There are no beds — just a concrete cube. No blankets or pillows. The cells were designed to hold people for a few hours, not a few days. In the one cell which housed 15 women, there wasn’t even enough room for them all to lay down at the same time. Three times a day, the guard brought each woman 4 slices of bread, a slice of american cheese and a small bag of cookies. They sometimes got juice, but water was scarce, as the CO’s had to wheel a water cooler through every so often (the regular water being “broken”). My fellow attorneys and I all separately heard the same sickening story over and over. None of the women really wanted to eat 4 slices of bread 3 times a day, so they were saving slices of bread to use as pillows.

Link 3: How Baltimore’s Police and Poverty fueled a Youth Revolt

The Baltimore PD has enough of an outsized bank account to rank as the eighth largest department in the country — in a city that’s only the nation’s 27th largest. The bulked up department has developed a reputation for brutal treatment of black residents. Since 2011 alone, the city has paid nearly $6 million to settle police brutality cases.

Since 2006, The Baltimore Sun reported, the program gave over $12 million worth of excess military equipment to police departments across Maryland, including mine-resistant and armed combat vehicles. Since the program began, The City of Baltimore has received at least $553,000 worth of military equipment and the county received 283 rifles. Since 2007, the Baltimore police have spent more than $250,000 on cell-phone tracking devices, which have been used to monitor thousands of Baltimore residents indiscriminately and without warrant. The department uses this technology with almost complete impunity, and has even publicly disclosed it is following directions from the FBI to block information on the program from judges and prosecutors.

Link 4: Baltimore imposes bail bonds of half a million dollars in legal crackdown

In one especially stark case, a 19-year-old charged with eight offences allegedly committed on Saturday, including riot, theft and disorderly conduct, was set a bail of $500,000. Court records show the defendant, a black man, was sent to jail after failing to produce the funds. Meanwhile, most of the 235 people arrested during riots and protests in the past week still have not been charged, after Maryland’s new Republican governor, Larry Hogan, effectively suspended the state’s habeas corpus law – which limits detention without charge to 24 hours – in a move he said was “necessary to protect the public safety”.

The vast majority of arrests on Monday night had not been accompanied by police reports meaning no charges had been placed, further complicating the processing the hundreds of people detained. The backlog has been exacerbated by the unexplained closure of three of the city’s four district courts. By around midday Wednesday only 22 of those arrested on Monday had presented for bail hearings, a criminal attorney said.

What do you think? Comments?