Tuesday, December 15, 2015

They're Gonna Burn Down the Zoo!

National eyeballs are upon our fair city again as we wait for the verdict in the trail of officer William Porter, charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. There's scant precedent (in Baltimore or anywhere) for an officer to be criminally charged with reckless endangerment, and even Warren A. Brown says the evidence isn't there.*

The prosecution (Jayne Miller's girlfriend and retired Venable partner Michael Schatzow) presented no witness who said Porter's actions were unreasonable, a former BPD commander said that their orders were closer to "guiding principles" (a indictment of the BPD, to be sure). There's no agreement when and how Gray incurred his fatal injury, much less that Porter had an "evil motive." 

So, what have we learned since April? We still don't know who gave the order to stop bus service at Mondawmin, though we know more about the BPD "major shortcomings"* that possibly incited the riots and definitely made them worse: an unclear chain of command, poor intelligence, a missing mayor and a police chief employing a passive- aggressive "stand down" strategy.

The riots were not just wilding in the streets but led to conceptual chaos also: we learned how the Crips, Bloods and BGF were actually the good guys, trying to keep the peace and save officers. Flaming liberals found themselves agreeing with the sentiments of right-wing conspiracy theorists. The categorical confusion seems epitomized in the case of Gregory Bailey/Butler, the alleged CVS hose-stabber who was revealed to be a Poly graduate who lost a $46k athletic scholarship because of the city schools' miscalculation of his GPA, an injustice would surely compel the grittiest Brietbart bootstrapper to open fire (and given the 290 mass-shootings in the U.S. since the riots, the stabbing of a fire hose in front of a burning CVS seems adorably picayune).

So, here we go again. County schools have cancelled all field trips to the city until the end of the week.* From April until now the state's spent about $35 million to keep former residents of West Baltimore in jail. The jurors are deliberating with bowls of candy.

Friday, August 14, 2015


It's the Schmoke era all over again. A deadly triple last night in Govans, body count up to 205.

Baltimore city has doled out $900k in police settlements this year, including $150k to the family of a disabled man shot through a car window, $20k for a police horse that bit a disabled girl, and $60k to a man who was given a body-cavity search by the side of the road for having an obscured license plate.

Apparently Psychology Consultants, the psych firm was paid $730,000 by the city for 15-minute sanity evaluations for cops and firefighters, was busted by their own whistleblower therapist.* 

Judge Nance let an accused killer go free* in May because he thought the accused's lawyer was acting "like a mother hen"* and that the jury was unfavorable to the defense based on said jury's facial expressions. Yep, that's the "legal reason." Today's new word: "sua sponte"
Should you have forgotten why Nance is despicable - "he's been the subject of judicial investigations three times because of his "demeaning" treatment of female jurors,* ("During one jury selection, court transcripts show, he told a single woman "to stand up and let us see [you]. ... There may be a single guy out there.") had a woman handcuffed for saying "I love you," and unconstitutionally issued a gag order to Van Smith because he was a potential juror."

Today's perv is Bryce McKey
supposed to coach bball for college laydays.
But creeper is out of a job today
cuz ladies say he got Cosbay in Kentuckay.

This drawing for the aspiring Pole Play Lounge.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Batts Fired, Deputy in Charge

Kevin Davis, ol whatshername
Decked out in a serious and seriously rack-hugging suit jacket, SRB announced today that she'd gone and fired her hand-picked commissioner Batts and that his deputy, one Kevin Davis, was now in charge.

Which is momentarily startling but not really shocking - the litany of awful since April 27 includes:
    That's in-credible!
  • The FOP's own report finding that the "credible threat" police cited preceding the riots on April 27 when they built up their street presence, urged major businesses to close, shut down metro and bus service and surrounded Frederick Douglass kids in the Mondawmin parking lot was, in fact, not "credible" in the least:
"On April 27, 2015, the commanding officer of the Criminal Intelligence Section was deployed as a commander of a Mobile Field Force to Mondawmin Mall ... work in this situation would have been better spent investigating and analyzing the 'purge' information that was received."
  • Also it turns out that it wasn't a tounge-flub at all when the mayor said she "gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well" -- the FOP reported that officers were indeed told at roll call that day to "the Baltimore Police Department would not respond until they [the protestors] burned, looted, and destroyed the city so that it would show that the rioters were forcing our hand." Charming!
And the final straw: an earnest 20-something white guy got mugged for his bike and wrote an op-ed about it published in the Sun, revealing to both citizens and apparently the police spokesman* and City Councilman Brandon Scott that police stations in two of the worst districts (South and Southwest) are closed, as in doors locked, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m nightly. This was followed by tales of officers' unprofessionalism, mass quittings and 24-hour-shifts surging on Reddit, and the shit show was somehow made even worse when the "most professional" of the officers the victim dealt with going on Facebook and blaming him for biking "in the dark" when he wasn't.

Fenton has a good summation of Batts' career.*
Batts was brought in from Oakland to be a change agent. What he brought: California-style riots to Baltimore, with the "space to destroy" and "show[ing] that the rioters were forcing our hand."
Also from the FOP report:
Batts used tactics in Oakland that he denies using in Baltimore. 'We allowed the protesters to start breaking into Foot Locker. They broke into Foot Locker and different places. But we had to do that because we didn’t want to look like this was a police action, where we were responding too soon. Then we had a very coordinated plan. It took us time to just kind of corral them, bring them in, and take them to jail. We didn’t have any complaints whatsoever, and the citizens said we did a good job.'

Notable: Kevin Davis, who called Batts a "true reform commissioner" himself "had a long career in Prince George's County, where he helped police emerge from federal oversight related to officers' use of force.*"

Dixon, anyone?

Monday, May 18, 2015

'Let Them Drink Coconut Water'

Hot on the heels of flaming riots, SRB's administration has cut water to 1,600 homes.* Water has not been cut to any delinquent businesses. Businesses owe more than 1/3rd of the tab.

Officer Vincent Cosom will spend 6 months in jail for that bus-stop beating that went viral.

Two men and three women were shot on N. Broadway Saturday.

Hey Serial fans, the Court of Special Appeals has granted Adnan Sayed's wish and remanded his case to Baltimore city Circuit Court to rule on a post-conviction proceeding. Court docs here

Crazy home invasion on Campus View Drive in Towson (so victims were students?) Three men and a woman were tied up by two perps-- Demencio Wilson and David Thompson-- demanding drugs and money, one of the victims jumped out a 2nd-story window and got help, perps were caught at the scene.

Jason T. Weinstein-- formerly Rod J. Rosenstein's right-hand guy with the Feds, prosecutor of Ed Norris and "Itchy Man,"  left to work for Holder's office, took the fall for Fast n Furious, was vindicated, decamped to D.C., now a private attorney banking Bitcoin bucks -- is in the Sunpapers comparing the Freddie Gray case to the Duke Lacrosse case,* Marilyn Mosby to Mike Nifong, and urging her to not rush an indictment and top drop false imprisonment charges for officers.
    So what is the deal with that knife? Legal or illegal? Where is it? Who has it? Anyone? Anyone? Said/reported/opined Page Croyder:*
 "Ms. Mosby was so hasty it appears she locked up two completely innocent officers.  She charged Freddie Gray’s arresting officers with “false imprisonment” because she said the knife that Gray had on him was legal.  In fact, as The Sun reported, the Police Task Force found it to be illegal after all.  It was Ms. Mosby who had no probable cause to lock the arresting officers up, an injustice she could have easily avoided by taking her time."

Friday, May 15, 2015

Red State Maryland

90 homicides in 2015, 65 homicides at this time in 2014, increase of 38.5%.

Is it normal that the State's Attorney filed charges agains the officers in the Freddie Gray case before the ME ruled the death a homicide?

True story.
Bills signed by Gov Hogan include making use of recording devices legal; requiring police to keep demographic records info on who they stop; requiring police to keep records of who they kill/hospitalize; expanding the reach of the (utterly ineffectual) Civilian Review Board..

Stadium Lounge in Waverly shut down 6 months for illegal gambling. License owner's lawyer is named Frank Boozer.

Mikvah-vouyeur rabbi to be sentenced today*

Monday, May 11, 2015

Post -Riot Blame Game/That Woman Is On Drugs

Hogan's office and aide Keiffer Mitchell said they tried to reach SRB on April 27 from 3:30 to 6 p.m. to get her permission to activate National Guard troops as the riots began at Mondawmin, but she didn't pick up the phone. From the WaPo:
At 2:30 p.m., Drew Vetter, director of legislative affairs for the Baltimore police, e-mailed members of the City Council and state legislators representing the city about a “credible gang threat against officers” and “possible violent activity” at Mondawmin Mall and downtown. ... After 3 p.m., Gregory E. Thornton, Baltimore’s schools chief, headed for the mall, only to be turned back by police who were blocking the streets. Thornton went to City Hall and told the mayor what he had see. ... 
By [3 p.m. Monday April 27], Mitchell had arrived at City Hall, having been ordered by Hogan to “be where the mayor is.” A former Baltimore City Council member who lives a mile from Mondawmin, Mitchell has known Rawlings-Blake since middle school. His uncle, as a state senator, had shown then-Gov. Spiro T. Agnew around Baltimore after the riots that followed the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968. That was the last time the National Guard had been called in.  ...  
About 6:45 p.m., the mayor traveled from police headquarters to the Emergency Operations Center, where her cabinet was waiting, as were Mitchell and several City Council members. ... Even though the troops had been activated, the mayor waited an additional 75 minutes to inform the public.“She finally made that call, and we immediately took action,” he said. The mayor, when told of Hogan’s remarks, “was pissed off, because she viewed it as the governor politicizing this,” said Harris, her spokesman, adding that the two leaders had talked more than once that afternoon. “She thought it was a rookie move. And you can quote me on that.”
But the billion-dollar questions:

Witnesses say it took 4-30 minutes for kids to start throwing bricks and bottles at police.

And who/what were police supposed to be protecting on April 27? Not, apparently, Mondawmin mall, where looters were so brazen they loaded clothes and shoes into their trunks by the armful all afternoon and into dark. Or any of the businesses around Pennsylvania and North Avenue.

And who ordered/strongly suggested the shutdown of downtown businesses in the middle of the day, Batts? Did he consult with SRB at all? And why wasn't this suggestion issued directly from the Mayor to all downtown employees instead of what appears to have been communique directly to the biggest businesses? We didn't from the Mayor or Batts himself until late Monday night.

That Woman. Drugs.
Here's my theory of what started the riots: That Woman Is On Drugs. That Woman = Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, of course, and by Drugs I mean something or some combo that's sedating and also an appetite suppressant.  Vyvanse and Ambien? Strattera and espresso? Pot n Percocet? She seems spaced out to the gills every time she's on TV.

And with SRB MIA/apathetic or knowledgeably on board with what Batts felt was a pressing threat, wanting to prove to Hogan and whomever that Baltimore could handle its own business, faced with plunging morale within the department as the threat of body cameras and accountability seeming a real possibility for the first time, Batts dealt with the stress the only way he knew how, like a hammer looking for a nail. 

That's my theory.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Shit Hits Fan

First of all, the fire department would like to assure you that the massive fire from the senior center was not related to the rioting last night.

However, the burning and looting at the CVS and the rioters who cut the the fire department's hose certainly was.
And just because that guy is walking away from a police van does not mean he was the one who set it on fire.  Though those people at Mondawmin loading racks of clothes into their trunks are definitely guilty.

But heroes emerged, like the man who danced on top of a box truck to Michael Jackson, the (different?) v talented Michael Jackson impersonator who danced to "Beat It" and the mom who saw her son rioting on TV and ran out and beat him. Yes, even CNN concedes, "A few people tried to stop the unrest," including Vietnam vet Robert Valentine, who told young people to go away and told CNN,
"I've seen more than all this. This here is not relevant need to have their butts at home, viewing this with their families, studying and doing something with their life. They do not respect this young man's death. Their mom and daddy done lost a child. I am very pissed. .. I love my country, I love my charm city."
The riots ignited at the conclusion of Freddie Gray's funeral, a high and solemn-yet-firey event attended by Gray's family, including his mum, twin sister Fredricka, sister Carolina, stepfather; White House officials, Eric Garner's family; an all-star show of orators:

  • Jesse Jackson - "all of our sons are at risk .. police wagon became a tomb ... he is more than a citizen, a martyr. ...go out and march, and march and call his name"
  • Scruffy, tie-less Billy Murphy - "this is like a bad marriage, but we're not interested in divorce"
  • Jamal Bryant - "he was a threat because he was man enough to look somebody in the eye .. they're used to black men with their head bowed down low, their spirit broken. .. but he stopped running"
  • Elijah Cummings [tears]

And then at around 11:30 a.m. police claimed a "credible threat" of talks of gangs targeting police and "purge" on social media. As we were later to discover,  apparently a guy said on Facebook:
"We gonna unify, you got Bloods, Crips, Muslims, BGF, you got everybody out here, you ain't never see it like this before. Everybody together just to go against these pigs" 
So downtown schools and businesses then began to close starting at around 2 p.m., including UMAB, T. Rowe Price and Legg Mason. But at the end of the funeral, mourners rolled out, protestors converged, students from schools including Frederick Douglass near Mondawmin spilled into the streets. "outsiders" including press, national groups like the Crips, Bloods and Nation of Islam took to the streets, and on the East side Dunbar students near Hopkins Hospital hit the bricks.

And the mayor made good on her quip from last week about allowing civilians on the streets "space to destroy." Indeed, police held back, not just at Mondawmin and with Dunbar students but as North Avenue and the CVS were smashed and burned, until the men started cutting the fire hose. And at some point the police claimed someone shot at them, and boys and men definitely threw rocks and bricks. And 144 burnt cars.

Tuesday city schools were closed, and Tuesday morning the National Guard rolled in. City private schools were open, but sports were cancelled, and one school decided at 1:10 to close at 1:30 out of fears of .... no one is sure what, exactly.

But no fatalities that we know of yet.

At the moment Baltimore is on the front page of the BBC News, and thousands of troopers have been deployed. Hogan is moving his office to take over from Stephanie, who is clearly overwhelmed (I miss Sheila Dixon, she got stuff done).

A warm, clear and sunny day, the cloying sweet smell of burnt lead-painted wood dominates the air, with pockets of burnt rubber, sulphur and plastics.