In The News…

Earlier this week on December 8, 2014, cell phone footage emerged on YouTube showing a Baltimore Police officer attacking and arresting a woman for filming other officers arrest a man across the street.

No, not Makia Smith, who in March of 2012 had experienced a very similar incident, after she was beaten after filming Baltimore Police officers beat a man.

Earlier this year, Kianga Mwamba was filming police arrest a man while stopped at a red light. When officers demanded that she move, she attempted to explain that she couldn’t because officers were standing in front of her vehicle. Shortly afterwards, officers dragged her out of her vehicle and tazing her before before being placed under arrest. Officers then attempted to delete the film she had captured, however unable to do so.

Charges were later dropped when the evidence in the film proved officers had lied. Officers had accused Mwamba of attempting to hit officers with her car – an accusation that has gotten many people in Baltimore (and beyond) shot (and killed), such as Thomas Mims, earlier this year.

Right around the same time the incident had occurred, a Baltimore Bloc member and homeless rights veteran, Tony Simmons testified before the Public Safety Committee and the Baltimore Police command staff that he too had his cell phone broken after filming officers harass a homeless friend of his at the corner of 25th and Greenmount.

The officer had told the homeless man that he wasn’t allowed “around here,” and then proceeded to take what little money he had and rip it up in front of the camera. Eventually the officer forced the Tony’s friend into his patrol vehicle and drove him up to Towson before leaving him stranded without shoes.

After hearing Simmons’ experience, a Baltimore Police commander met with him and took a report, however still to this day there hasn’t been a response from them.

Before any of these incidents had occurred, the Baltimore Police Department had published General Order J-16 in November 2011, which stated that “no member of the Baltimore Police Department may prevent or prohibit any person’s ability to observe, photograph, and/or make a video recording (with or without a simultaneous audio recording) of police activity that occurs in the public domain…”

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#D2 TUE – Day of Action – #BaltimoreBloc

( Day 7 of #BmoreFerguson | Day 502 of #TyroneWest )

The following events are occurring Tuesday, December 2, 2014

at 9:30 AM, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s “Working Study Group” on Body Cameras for the Baltimore Police Department will be held at the University of Maryland’s School of Law. This will be the group’s second meeting, and the first time the Mayor has publicly announced the meeting. We encourage all community members who are able to do so, to attend this meeting and take notes / film, and then share your thoughts with Baltimore Bloc.

Despite claiming that she wants Baltimore Police to wear body cameras, the Mayor is preparing to veto a bill that was recently passed by the City Council that would require them to do so. Her excuse has been that the Baltimore Police have yet to conduct a comprehensive study on how best implement the technology; therefore nothing can be done until her research group finishes their project.

Baltimore Bloc released an open letter on November 8 declaring their support for body cameras on the condition that all officers, especially those with a history of violence or misconduct (“Violent Repeat Officers”) and those officers in the Special Enforcement Section, more commonly known as “The Knockers” or “The Jumpout Boys.” In addition to that, Baltimore Bloc also demanded that an independent 3rd party store the data collected.

at 3:00 PM, the Baltimore City Council’s Public Safety Committee will hold their Quarterly Oversight Hearing of the Baltimore Police Department, in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts and his command staff will speak before Councilman Warren Branch, Chairman of the Public Safety Committee, and other councilmembers.

As Baltimore Bloc has observed on several occasions before, there has been very little community participation at the Quarterly Oversight Hearings. As the entire nation focuses on issues of police brutality and accountability in the wake of Mike Brown’s murder by a Ferguson, MO police officer and the failure of the grand jury to indict his killer, Baltimore Bloc calls on the citizens of Baltimore to attend this hearing and work toward an end to police brutality and for a fully-accountable police department here at home.

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(Videos are from “Quarterly Oversight Hearing” on April 3, 2014)

Police Commissioner Batts

PFK BOOM

Duane “Shorty” Davis

Tiffany McAllister

Tony Simmons

Shaka Zulu

For more info on the movement to end police brutality and mass incarceration in Baltimore and beyond, follow the Baltimore Bloc on Twitter and Facebook.