The Baltimore Country Club has a “financial and physical interest” in the city of Baltimore, according to a fact sheet available to members.
On Friday, the Baltimore Police nabbed a man who attempted to pimp out his wife to an undercover cop for $100 at a BWI-area hotel. The twist: the husband-pimp, Lamin Manneh, is himself a Baltimore City cop in the Eastern District. That same week, a Baltimore cop killed his girlfriend, held a toddler hostage, and engaged in a standoff with the SWAT team. And a woman claiming that four Baltimore police officers assaulted her when she tried to film them with her cell phone camera (because they were allegedly assaulting a juvenile suspect) recently filed a million-dollar suit against the officers and department last month. All of which begs the question: What is going on with the Baltimore City Police?
For a few months now, all we knew about the mysterious “Renoir Girl” was that she had stumbled upon a painting by the Impressionist Master in a $7 box of “junk” she bought at a West Virginia flea market. Now, thanks to some industrious sleuthing by the Washington Post, we know who she is — and that her story isn’t as clear-cut as it previously seemed.
Around this time last year, I remember asking my Johns Hopkins students what their summer plans were. As soon as the question left my mouth, I could tell it was a mistake. Apart from the few who had solid gigs as lifeguards or research assistants, most of these bright and dedicated kids were still searching for someone who would let them work for the summer… for free. Once an optional half-step up the career ladder, the unpaid internship has become something of a necessity. According to new research, more than 90 percent of employers think that students should have completed at least a couple internships before graduating. And that, according to Atlantic editor Derek Thompson, is a big problem, because “unpaid internships aren’t morally defensible.”
Yikes. Those are some strong words. But Thompson has the arguments to back it up. First of all, a career track founded on unpaid internships (as is common in politics, research, journalism, and non-profits) hurts low-income students. “These students need work that pays money, but they also need an internship to work in the field. As a result, poorer students are at permanent disadvantage in the summer internship market,” Thompson writes. Even for students who aren’t in precarious economic positions, the unpaid internship is a shaky deal. Employers reap the benefits of bright young minds, but don’t have to offer up any job security, benefits, or actual money. According to the Labor Department’s guidelines, unpaid internships have to satisfy three requirements: they must be more like education than a job; interns can’t work in place of paid employees; and their work must not be of “immediate benefit” to their employer. As Thompson notes, “these rules are flouted more routinely than speed limits.”
According to Jordan Miles, on January 12, 2010, three white, plainclothes Pittsburgh police officers jumped out of an unmarked car, ran him down, and beat him. The high school student said he had no idea the men chasing him were law enforcement officers, and the police, who thought Miles was carrying a concealed weapon, later cited nothing more dangerous than a bottle of Mountain Dew at the scene. In a photo taken the next day, the bloodied, swollen right side of the teen’s face bears little resemblance to the left.
On February 2, 2012, members of a New York Police Department narcotics unit observed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham walking out of a Bronx bodega. Suspicious of the way he moved his hand near his waist, officers entered the apartment building where Graham lived, kicked down his front door, chased him into the bathroom, and killed him. In the toilet lay a bag of marijuana but no gun.
Three-and-a-half weeks later, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida told police he shot an unarmed 17-year-old in self defense.
Race, many fear, was the leading factor in all three incidents, and today each victim awaits justice. But you’ve probably only heard of one of them. As outrage over what happened to Trayvon Martin one awful Sunday night spreads around the country, it’s worth considering why this case is drawing attention to the dangers of being young, black, and male and giving some thought to what should happen next.
Here’s what we know.
During halftime of the NBA All-Star Game, Martin walked to a 7-Eleven. As he made his way back through a gated community, George Zimmerman, a resident in a neighborhood concerned about a rash of burglaries, trailed Martin, called 911, then approached the boy against the admonishment of the emergency dispatcher. Zimmerman, 12 years older and, by many accounts, heavier than Martin, had a gun. Martin did not. Many people remain incredulous that an arrest has not been made.
It took weeks of stories, but local reporters and black journalists elsewhere spurred national interest in the case before social media helped turn the demand for justice into what could now be called a movement. In rallies around the country, people have donned hoodies, much like the one Martin wore when he was killed, as a sign of support. The U.S Department of Justice is reviewing the case, President Obama expressed his concerns about the shooting, and as of this writing more than two million people have signed an online petition demanding Zimmerman’s prosecution.
In 2009 alone, more than 1,200 black teenagers died of gun violence. This is not the typical response.
With the fight for the Republican nomination in full swing, abortion is in the news once again. And that’s only going to be more true as Maryland watches the trial of two out-of-state doctors who were indicted on murder charges last month stemming from a 2010 abortion.
Thirty-eight states have a law on the books allowing for murder charges against someone who kills a viable fetus. Til now, that law has only been used against defendants who were charged with assaulting or killing a pregnant woman. The facts in this case are quite different, though disturbing in their own way: Dr. Steven Brigham (of New Jersey) and Dr. Nicola Riley (of Utah) botched an abortion on a woman who was 21 weeks pregnant, rupturing her uterus and injuring her bowels. When authorities searched the clinic, they found a freezer with 35 late-term fetuses inside. Brigham’s methods sound sleazy — according to the Guardian, for women seeking abortions after the first trimester, Brigham would begin abortion procedures in New Jersey, then have his patients drive themselves to Maryland to finish.
But there are larger questions at play here. According to Maryland law, anyone “intend[ing] to cause the death of the viable fetus” can be charged with murder; the law also states that it’s not intended to infringe on a woman’s right to an abortion. (Late-term abortions are legal in Maryland; the pro-choice organization NARAL gives the state an “A” for its laws regarding reproductive rights.) The charges against Brigham may lead to a court battle over whether he aborted “viable” fetuses. “This is probably the first case that Maryland has ever seen with this factual scenario using this statute. It’s a unique situation,” said Cecil County State’s Attorney Ellis Rollins. Stay tuned for updates.
Seventy percent of Baltimore schools are in poor condition, and fixing them up is a $2.8 billion project. The city doesn’t have $2.8 billion. So what’s to be done?
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced a plan this week to increase the city’s bottle tax from two to five cents; that would provide a projected $155 million in bonds. Add in funds from the yet-to-materialize slots casino, and the city is still far from the amount necessary… but, hey, it’s better than nothing.
It’s not likely to happen without a fight. When the mayor proposed an initial two-cent tax last year, grocery store owners and beverage lobbyists put up a fierce fight because they didn’t want business to b pushed into the county. More than doubling that initial tax is sure to raise hackles even more.
But city schools are undeniably in bad shape, and the undecided City Council members are sure to feel pressure from the mayor to support her cause. As it stands now, six of the fifteen councilmembers support the plan; the others are either undecided or in opposition. Our bet is that we can all look forward to a protracted battle over the issue.
According to the stalwart protesters in Baltimore’s McKeldin Square, the city has refused their request for a permit and set a deadline to clear the square. And that deadline is tomorrow.
Well, it’s not a total eviction — two people can stay. Which doesn’t make for much of an occupation, according to organizers:
The city suggests that the demonstrators agree in good faith to
maintain only one overnight tent with just two people. Occupy
Baltimore counters that anyone who wants to stay in their space is
allowed a safe place to stay, out of the elements and with enough food
to eat. Furthermore, Occupy Baltimore has a complex infrastructure
already, with media, food, direct action, outreach, security, and
other working groups, which couldn’t possibly be contained within two
What will happen tomorrow? That remains to be seen.