FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 19, 2016
Baltimore, MD - Today the Baltimore Action Legal Team (BALT) released a list of comprehensive recommendations for the consent decree between the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division (DOJ) and the Baltimore Police Department (BPD).
“Centuries of state sponsored violence against Black people led to the events of April 2015. Unfortunately, much of that state sponsored violence is codified in our legal system. This reality requires federal, state, and local government action to effectively remedy past harms and prevent a continued pattern of state and police violence,” said Jenny Egan, BALT co-founder.
BALT recommends the consent decree include an end to stop-and-frisks in Baltimore, changes to BPD’s use of force policies, the implementation of restorative practices to address past harms done by BPD to city residents, 1st Amendment trainings, and a requirement that the monitoring team include impacted individuals from the city. BALT’s recommendations were drafted by several volunteer lawyers with expertise in criminal justice reform, racial equity, gender justice, and restorative practices. Together, BALT represents adults and juveniles, whose communities bear the brunt of disparate policing practices; residents and community organizations, whose civil rights have been violated; and a range of Baltimore residents’ who are impacted by the collateral consequences of BPD’s practices on opportunities for affordable housing and quality jobs. BALT also compiled the recommendations of community members who participated in a forum in August and shared them with the DOJ.
“As lawyers, we have a responsibility to call out unjust laws and combat legally sanctioned state violence,” said Iman Freeman, BALT co-founder. “BALT maintains that many areas of reform are needed, but we believe the most critical areas are 1) unconstitutional stops, frisks, searches, and arrests; 2) the current and historical role of BPD in the greater system of structural racism; 3) infringement on individuals’ rights of free speech and assembly; 4) gender bias in policing; and 5) implementation of a community-led monitoring system over BPD and the Consent Decree.”
BALT agrees with the Movement for Black Lives that ending the criminalization and dehumanization of Black Youth cannot wait and must be centered in any conversation about police reform. For that reason, we chose to create separate, distinct, and extensive recommendations for provisions that apply specifically to young people. Those recommendations include an immediate end to the unconstitutional youth curfew, disbanding of the Baltimore City School Police Force, and a ban on police questioning of children without an attorney present.
BALT’s recommendations come just before its first ever Lightning BALT event on Saturday, October 1, 2016 at Coppin State University. The daylong workshop provides a space for the people of Baltimore to Dream. Think. Agitate. Act. Baltimore residents, community activists and legal workers will come together to develop a collective action plan focused on how to improve access to quality jobs and uproot sentencing disparities in Baltimore. The event is free and open to the public. Learn more and register on our website.