The following is an open letter from the Baltimore Bloc:
To the Baltimore City Council, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.
We write to you today to voice our opposition to Bill 14-0443, and any other decision made regarding public safety and the Baltimore Police Department without the participation and approval of the West Coalition and other families and victims of police violence here in Baltimore.
Any action taken without the support of the families and victims of police violence lacks true legitimacy; therefore, any discussion regarding the implementation of body cameras by Baltimore Police must from here on include the West Coalition. The City Councilmembers can refer to a letter they received from the West Coalition (West Family Coalition Letter) on September 7, outlining the Coalition’s list of demands, the first of which demands body cameras for all Baltimore Police officers.
The current bill that Councilman Warren Branch and Council President Jack Young are trying to pass is a weak piece of legislation that does not meet the standards of transparency and accountability that we as victims and families of police violence expect. We would ask for the following changes:
It should not be new Baltimore Police recruits that begin wearing the body-cameras first, as the bill currently states — it should be, first and foremost, the officers that already have histories of police brutality and misconduct, and also the plainclothes unit known as the Special Enforcement Section, which perpetrated the murders of Anthony Anderson and Tyrone West, as well as the brutal assault on Abdul Salaam.
The video and audio content captured by the body cameras should automatically be archived directly to an independent grassroots party, who will maintain the footage and preserve it in the event that charges or civil suits are brought against officers.
Furthermore, the implementation of the body camera program must be observed closely by an independent grassroots body, such as Baltimore Bloc. This would include access to the research and findings of the “working group” appointed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, as well as oversight of the training of the officers.
Regardless of what happens here and now at the city level, we demand that the members of the City Council and the Mayor’s Office unconditionally support any legislation sponsored by the West Coalition and Baltimore Bloc in the upcoming General Assembly, regarding not only the issue of body cameras but also any other public safety issue that has to do with the Baltimore Police Department, including legislation aimed at amending or repealing the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.
– Baltimore Bloc