Our last discussion about riots ended with more questions than answers. One that was brought up was policy response after riots. I remember when reading about the New York riots in the 1930’s, mayor La Guardia had responses to address discrimination and job opportunities. However, we did not get to discuss if any of the more recent riots resulted in a social response from the government. So, I decided to do some digging into the Baltimore Riots to see what social efforts appeared after the riot.
The first thing to show up in my search was the effort to change the Maryland’s Law Enforcement Bill of Rights (LEBOR). The issue brought up in the meeting was about “reducing a provision that gives officers 10 days to receive representation before cooperating with an investigation, opening trial boards to the public, and increasing from 90 days to a year and one day the length of time that someone may file a brutality complaint against an officer” (Wiggins). Many find Maryland’s bill of rights to be one of strictest one regarding filed complaints. The process to make the changes got as far as the committee meeting. However, the changes were never made. You can still sign the petition supported by ACLU of Maryland.
Even if the changes were made, Karl W. Bickel believes that it’s not enough for change. He says proposals “draw attention from the real problems contributing to unnecessary and excessive uses of force by police that have created the growing rift we are seeing today between police and the citizens they serve.” This supports our discussion in in class. The idea that the grievances before the trigger for riots should be addressed and not just the aftermath of a trigger. His article indicated how formal government must support programs and encourage solutions to larger problems. So, I checked into the Baltimore city website to see what I can find.
That’s where One Baltimore steps in. One Baltimore was created in response to the riots by the current mayor Stephanie Rawlings- Blake. It was a way to fund damaged businesses but also has the organization to do more. On their website it says, “OneBaltimore will focus on the immediate, short-term needs of those communities affected by our recent unrest and violence, and seek to promote collaboration to focus on the systemic problems our city has faced for decades.” Since allocating funds to riot damage is temporary, it makes sense that the organization with continue to improve the area long term. This organization has the resources, money, influence, and organized structure need to pursue systematic problems. And they are making progress. Since the organization is integrated with the city government, they are expected to present plans of action at meetings. The group just recently met with the education and youth committee of city hall in August. In the meeting, the president addresses
Developing a ‘One Baltimore’ Agenda for Youth FOR the purpose of determining practical measures to address the short-and long-term needs of the Children and Youth of Baltimore City; and calling on ‘One Baltimore’ Director Michael Cryor to provide and overview of the ‘One Baltimore’ program and rollout, Deputy Mayor Dawn Kirstaetter to present several of the Mayor’s youth priorities and initiatives, and Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen to discuss the Youth Violence Prevention and Safe Streets program. (Baltimore City Council)
The group was only created one month after the riots, so physical changes are still in the beginning stages. However, the direct goal of addressing social problems in West Baltimore and having resources in forms of money and government interaction is promising for the future. Some of their current programs include Baltimore business recovery fund, Hiring Youth, Donations for City and Youth- related Programs, Maryland Unites, United Way, and Baltimore Community Foundation. They offer a range of opportunities to approach problems such as employment opportunities and youth education. These programs also rely on the community’s participation. The importance of OneBaltimore as a collaborative public- private initiative means that the organization still relies on the broader community for engagement and progress.
Baltimore is aware of the larger social factors that were present before the riots occurred. In our previous discussions in class, it seemed that government policy responded to economic change and riot response. However, in Baltimore, the government response includes plans to address the larger structural issues that West Baltimore is facing. It is important that programs such as OneBaltimore sees further support from the government and at the same time encourage community engagement. Since OneBaltimore was created by the mayor, it has influence in the city government that other organizations have barriers. It will be interesting to see was resulted we will see in the next few years.
Bickel, Karl W. (2015, August 26) “Officers’ Bill of Rights is not the Problem.” Baltimore Sun. retrieved from http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-leobr-attack-20150826-story.html
Wiggins, O. (2015, August 24). After Baltimore riots, changes to police ‘bill of rights’ sought. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/police-reform-advocates-call-on-md-lawmakers-to-address-officer-misconduct/2015/08/24/e2775c88-4a67-11e5-846d-02792f854297_story.html
Baltimore City Hall http://www.baltimorecity.gov/government