Monthly Archives: October 2011

Occupy Baltimore: Day 22

10:43am – Baltimore Brew is posting that Occupy Baltimore may get a LOT smaller by this time
tomorrow. The city’s Department of Parks & Recreation has decided not to
approve the movement’s permit for indefinite encampment; though a press
release
from the group says that a compromise was offered by the city
allowing protesters to stay during daytime hours but limited camping on the
site (a “maximum of 2 people”) as well as restricting the area of the protest
to the space immediately surrounding McKeldin Fountain. Failure to comply would
result in eviction from the park.

1:02pm – A second press release is posted basically expanding on their previous one, but this time
detailing the full text of the city’s letter to them in which they propose
setting up a “space sharing agreement” with other parties wishing to use the
Square… though if such an agreement cannot be reached than Occupy Baltimore
must “withdraw all set ups within the park for the dates of the [other
party’s] permit.
” The movement has until tomorrow to approve or reject
said compromise.

2:10pm – OWS posts 2nd press release on their web site under headline: “Protect
Occupy Baltimore!

4:50pmBaltimore Sun posts a story essentially summarizing the initial press release.

5:45pm – Apparently, their “Workshop on White Privilege for White Folks” is still slated
for 6pm; no word on whether “Alternative Economics” seminar at 11am went
forward or not. I find it ironic that their (pre-planned) “Civil Disobedience
Training” is set for tomorrow at 3pm – especially since police will probably
start the eviction around 3am that morning.

8:15pm – beginning of General Assembly.

8:32pm – overview of police procedure should you be arrested in Baltimore City.

8:40pm – Q: When would police evict us? Paul from Legal: We have no answer; the proposal is too
vague to provide an answer to that question.

8:56pm –“1. No overnight tents and no
overnight camping will be allowed except for one tent with up to two individuals…
All others must leave McKeldin Square area by midnight, the time that the area
is closed to visitors.” –fails.

9:01pm – “3. Occupiers may not obstruct, in any way, the rights of way in the area.” – tabled.

4. “Occupy Baltimore has been given a map detailing the footprint perimeter of
their occupied area, the area where any tents or signs or any set ups may be placed.” – tabled.

9:26pm – “5. Occupy group needs to identify a “spokesperson” who will… keep City officials advised of any significant…issues at the site.” – passes. Majority in favor of non-legal number as they feel Legal held permit issue too long.

9:43pm – Agrees that the will NOT vacate space if other groups wish to use space, returns to walk-through
issue but tabled until later date

9:57pm – Cullen announces that GA is being livestreamed on OWS website

10:16pm – more discussion of multiple press releases, call to join media committee

10:26pm – traffic accident in intersection: medical goes to evaluate accident, statements interrupted by
sirens and general audience rubbernecking.

10:42pm – stack on press releases finishes, but discussion of process continues for several minutes.
Online viewership is steadily dropping.

10:57pm – Committee reports: Cullen to appear on Countdown
with Keith Olbermann
, direct actions announced, campus outreach needed

11:07pm – Announcements: Baltimore to host regional day of Occupations. Rally for Rec Centers at
Parks\Recs building; partnership with Moveon.org.

11:38pm – General Assembly ends.

2:00amIndypendent Reader reports that nothing happened. No police
arrived, no arrests were made and no forcible breakdown of camp. The Occupatiion
continues peacefully… for now.

Categories: Baltimore, news, protests | Leave a comment

Hating the public transports

My day starts around 9am; I wake up, shower and check my RSS
feeds. By the time I finish that it’s time to begin work either finishing a
writing project or going out and either running errands or starting on stories.
As I’ve stated before, the writing is the easy part.

For instance, yesterday was food shopping day. I could have
walked the 2.1 miles to the grocery store, but I decided to take the Circulator
instead. However when the bus pulled up it was full, as I was trying to get on
I was trying to squeeze into the aisle, I was shoved by the person behind me
yelling “move it, jackass!” The people who I was shoved into weren’t happy with
me either, turning around and glaring at me for my rudeness in crashing into
them.

When it came time to get off I literally had to jostle
through a dozen other passengers to get to the door, nearly tipping over
someone’s bag on the way out the door. This teenager brushes past me, he laughs
and gives me the brilliant advice: “Ha, don’t trip, Buddy.”

I’m not in the mood for fights, so I simply make a joke of
his joke. “Yeah, I’ll have to get this buddy person for that.”

“What the fuck is your problem, buddy? I will fuck you the
fuck up! You hear me? I will fuck you the fuck up, you fucking asshole!”

I try to explain myself, but he cuts me off: “You open your
fucking mouth; I put my fist through it! You understand me, you fucking
asshole? NO-ONE talks shit to ME. NO-ONE! I fuck them up!”

“Don’t mess with him,” his friend says.

I continue walking. My mom likes to say the best way to
de-escalate a situation. Once again, mom is wrong.

“I’m being NICE to you by telling you not to break your
fucking leg and you’re throwing shit in my face? Fuck you, I ain’t about to let
no asshole start yelling at me for being nice to him.”

“I wasn’t yelling,” I said calmly, in fact his acquisition
confused the heck out of me.

“What the fuck did I tell you about talking back to me? Fuck
you, you god-damned fucking asshole! I try to be nice,” he said to his friend.
”And he repays me by yelling at me for no fucking reason,” he turns around
again and repeats, “Fuck you, fucking asshole, fuck you!”

I sighed, at least it’s out of his system now, and I get on
with my day.

He turns around again: “What the fuck did you just call me?
Huh, I don’t take any shit from fucking assholes like you calling names behind
my back! You hear me, you stupid fucking asshole? Another word and I WILL fuck
you the fuck up!”

“Yeah, don’t be a dick.”

“No, don’t,” he said to his friend intentionally speaking
loud enough for me to hear him half a block him. “He’s too big of a fucking
COWARD to say shit to my face so he just says shit when I turn around. Fucking
asshole yelling at ME like that,” he turns around again, “I said: fuck you,
fucking cowardly asshole!”

They cross the street with the signal, and a man comes up
beside me. “Don’t let them bother you – outta sight, outta mind. Don’t let them
ruin your day.”

“Thanks,” I said to him.

I go into the food court, the same food court from the previous posts, but I’m too distracted to actually
eat anything. I toss my food in the trash and head into the grocery store, but
despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t concentrate on my shopping. I was
fortunate enough to get a cashier who least pretended to be sympathetic to my
problems.

I probably bought half of what I went in there for as the
bag felt light on the way back on the comparatively empty ride back to UB\MICA
area, but at least I was able to get back to my apartment without further
incident.

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, transportation, writing | 1 Comment

Columbus weekend at The Fountain

Day 5: (Saturday, October 8, 2011)

–         The movement gained $2000 in donations.

–         McKeldin Fountain is apparently not part of
Occupation area, and all signs must be taken down or they will be removed by
police…

–         Who were called to break up an apparent
altercation at the protest site, no arrests were made and the incident was
resolved peacefully. However, this has left some with concerns for their safety
in the space.

–         Suggestions of having members canvas
neighborhoods (except Midtown\Belvedere which they felt was over represented in
the group), and contacting AFL-CIO

–         Film the media as they are filming us to guard
against spin (the Scientology approach), also suggested writing to newspapers
and calling radio shows.

Day 6: (Sunday, October 9, 2011)

–         “Corporate marching tour” of downtown (1pm), “Occupy City Council with Bill Barry”
(3pm) and workshop on communicating to the media (5pm)

–         Live Reggae band performed in evening, community
drummers
in afternoon.

–         Interview by FOX 45 News; Letter to editor defending protests printed in Baltimore
Sun

–         However, unofficial media partner Indypendent Reader has now moved
on
to cover “Occupy Austin.”

–         Also, Brew reports that Charles Village staged
their own (unrelated) “Occupation” to promote the city’s “wasted
public spaces
.”

Day 7: (Monday, October 10, 2011)

–         Food crew holds “Potluck Monday

–         Medical team holds free blood pressure screenings

–         “Genocide and Oppression Rally” in honor ofColumbus Day.

–         “The Coming Insurrection” (4pm) and “Patriarchy
in Protest” (6pm)

Categories: Baltimore, news, protests | Leave a comment

The (Satur)days are just packed

12:16pm – arrive at Festival on the Hill

12:18pm – take my camera out and begin snapping photos

12:24pm – leave festival and begin trek towards downtown

12:34pm – cam see the NB Circulator passing Charles\Preston –
the race is on!

12:39pm – make it to corner of St Paul\Preston – 3 minutes
before bus does (drivers tend to take their breaks at Penn Station)

12:57pm – arrive at Visitor’s Center for quick lunch

1:10pm – entire Light St “Food Court” is boarded off.

1:15pm – cross into “The Gallery” – their food court SUCKS, but at least they have one

1:30pm – can clearly see Occupy Baltimore protesters through mall window – nowhere near the “200+”
predicted earlier this week.

1:34pm – make my way down to McKeldin Square to begin photographing weekend protesters. There were
about 40-50 there – double their number from Thursday.

2:01pm – continue on promenade to American Visionary Art Museum

2:14pm – appears to be a volleyball tournament going on, there are at least 2x more people here
than at the protest. 😦

2:21pm – arrive at AVAM, not happy with the 50% price hike

2:47pm – leave museum

2:59pm – arrive back at Visitors Center to wait for Circulator back to apartment.

Categories: adventures, art, attractions, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, entertainment, festivals, news, photography, protests, transportation | Leave a comment

Occupy Baltimore: Day 4

One of the things my dad noted as a Scoutmaster was that
tensions within the troop always tended to erupt around the 4th day
of camp. It was inevitable with the tight confines of the campsite, but it was
also temporary and would generally burn itself off by the end of the day.

Well, it’s day 4 of Occupy Baltimore, so…

It started the day before, just a few hours after I left to
write up yesterday’s field report. Reports of minor disagreements cropping up
among protesters are to be expected. Regardless of what cause they are united
under (however tenuously), people will be people. They will jostle for power
and look for leadership within what is supposed to be a “leaderless movement,”
but unlike at camp, if they don’t like what are hearing or worse feel they are
not being listened to (which is the whole point of this protest) they are more
than free to walk away.

Political differences, ideological issues, social
philosophies and purported failures of leadership all begin creeping up
–especially within a community this small – along with the petty conflicts of
personality and personal preferences. Some of this was real giving people a
chance to vent their grievances against each other (and society in general),
and some was manufactured as a way of distracting themselves from their own
problems.

Some people “stormed off” and some people wrote fiery
letters to the group’s website, but at the end of the night, the group was
still there and the movement still on. Fighting the good fight without killing
each other – or anyone else for that matter – in the process, and that’s all
that’s important here.

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, news, protests | 1 Comment

Occupy Baltimore: Day 3

McKeldin Square is a small triangular patch of bricks
separating the struggling Harborplace from the successful upscale mall known
simply as The Gallery. The fountain, drained of its usual supply of homeless
urine, sat idly in the plaza’s Southwest corner. Its shabby trash filled basins
an unintentional metaphor for the lives of the protestors gathered around it; the
empty basin also revealed the rusty base that supports the fountain’s shiny
statue, reflecting the hollow wealth of the people who commissioned it.

It is easy to stereotype the people gathered for Occupy
Baltimore as “unwashed hippies looking for a big government handout,” but there
is more to the movement than that. Most were there to protest the growing
disparity between the wealthy 1% (who control 60% of the world’s money) and the
99% of the people who aren’t and most likely never will be no matter how hard
they work.

“People have a greater chance of being struck by lightning –
TWICE – AND getting into a car accident AND getting Syphilis at the same time
then they do of working their way into the top 1%,” Cullen Nawalkowsky said empathically.

A few feet away from the “media tent” (which was in fact
little more than an uncovered folding table and two or three metal folding
chairs), a few young protesters are creating signs to hang across the railing
of empty fountain. Meanwhile, about four or five protesters stand at the
Northern most corner of the plaza waving signs at passing motorists, some of
whom honk back in support of the cause causing the protesters to erupt in
cheers.

A mother stood in the center of the square trying to explain
the protest to her energetic four year old. “This park belongs to all of us,”
she said. “See these big buildings: Bank of America, PNC, and Wakovia? THEY
have money… but they don’t like to share it with the rest of us so these people
have gathered to tell them that that is not right.”

That’s somewhat of an oversimplification, but with BoA
recently announcing a $5 ATM fee and the shuttering of their Small Biz loans
division, it isn’t hard to argue with her. However, the banks aren’t the only
ones in the group’s cross hairs: politicians and their corporate masters were
also on their agenda.

“I’m AGAINST people making money,” Nawalkowsky said. “I just
want to get rid of lobbyists and cap donations. I believe $200,000 is a
reasonable salary.”

I asked him, why the media wasn’t covering this protest, and
he said “oh they show up at around noon, take a few pictures and leave because ‘there’s
no-one here.’”

I look down at my watch, it was exactly 1pm.

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, news, photography | 2 Comments

Occupy Baltimore: A media round up

The mainstream media seemed to view the gathering of
protesters at McKeldin Park as a mild curiosity on Tuesday and Wednesday. This
at least means, it wasn’t ignored like the beginning of the larger Wall Street “occupation.”

Occupy Baltimore Protests (WBFF-TV – Oct 4)

Activists launch “Occupy Baltimore” (Baltimore magazine – Oct 4)

Peaceful gather at “Occupy Baltimore” (Baltimore Sun – Oct 4)

Marylanders “Occupy Baltimore” to spread message (WJZ-TV – Oct 4)

 

Occupy Baltimore stages protest in Inner Harbor (AP – Oct 5)

Wall Street protesters stay night in Inner Harbor (WBAL – October 5)

Categories: Baltimore, news | Leave a comment

Why Baltimore needs the Yellow Line

One of the things about being a carless (or “car free” as
they call it now) journalist is that it can make covering stories more of an
ordeal than they should be. For instance, I can’t review a regular evening show
of “Godspell” (Vagabond) or “The Little Dog Laughed” (FPCT) since the only way
to get to one of their shows is via a bus that stops running about midway
through the performance and cab fare back to my apt would be astronomical. Yes,
they have Sunday matinees, but even those can be tricky for their own reasons.

However, the reason I am writing this is because I was
assigned to cover a new exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art in the northern
part of the city. MTA has a variety of buses crossing through that part of
town, but since I’m not familiar with that particular area I opted for a cab
instead.

I hate traveling by taxi since the drivers tend to obnoxious
tourist fleecing dicks. Fortunately, the driver on my outbound trip wasn’t bad,
and managed to get me to my destination without incident.

I gave Rahjim my seven dollars and went into the museum as
normal. Admission was free, but I did stop at the visitors’ desk for a map. The
show I wanted was at the end of the indigenous gallery, and I slowly made my
way through the exhibit space on my way to assignment.

The show was called “Hand Held”
and while I’m not going to review it in this space, I will say it complimented
their existing African galleries.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t really in the mood to explore the
rest of the museum so I made my way back to the lobby, and wandered around the
JHU area until I found someplace I could have a quick lunch.

Naturally, there was a homeless guy waiting for me outside
the restaurant I was about to enter nothing like a hamburger with a side of
guilt. Of course, with the service I got there, I was lucky if I got anything
before closing time.

Most of my down time at the restaurant was spent wondering
how I was getting back to Bolton Hill. I could have looked up bus routes on my
smart phone, but it was back at my apt charging. When the bill finally came, it
was time for a decision. I chose to go back to the museum and let them call a
taxi for me back to Penn Station.

It was crossing Charles St on my way back to the museum that
I realized the bus stop in the median was the future home of the JHU station on
the presumably upcoming Yellow Line. It got me to thinking: if the Yellow Line
was in place, I wouldn’t have to spend the last hour worrying how I was getting
back. I could just get my ticket and go…but it isn’t.

It took about 10 minutes for the cab to arrive, and I had to
think for a moment where I wanted to go. I didn’t really feel like walking back
from Penn Station so I told him (a different driver than before) the name of my
apt complex.

“E-Dress,” he said impatiently. I give it to, he then rolls
his eyes and says “think you.”

I could clearly see him saying something nasty about me
under his breath in the rear view mirror, but that’s his issue not mine. When
we got to Station North, he mumbled something else at me, and then barked “RIGHT
OR STAIGHT? IT NOT HARD QUESTION!”

“If you don’t know where it is, I can get out and find my
own way back.”

NO!” he snarled. “LIGHT IS GREEN! YOU TELL ME NOW!

“S-straight” I said nervously, all I could think of ‘please, don’t kill me.’

“Think you…asshole.”

He drives straight, and then has me direct him to my
apartment. I strongly considered having him drop me off in Sutton Place, and I
could have gotten away with it as he seemed unsure exactly where he was on this
street.

I go to tell him he’s got a while yet, but he cuts me off
telling me he knows exactly where we are. When we get to my building, I tell
him to stop behind a red truck about half up the block. I can see the fare box
reads “7.80” and I give $8. He just makes a “get out” with his hand.

“My change?”

“YOU do not get change! Fare is 6.80 – I charge dollar
service charge. You give me $8 – therefore, YOU GET NO CHANGE!”

“I’m not stupid! I want my change.”

He growls at me, but reaches to get the coins from the
alcove below the cigarette lighter glaring at me the entire time in the
rearview mirror. He gives me my two dimes and barks “GET THE FUCK OUT OF CAR!”

I get out realizing once again why Baltimore needs the
Yellow Line – now.

Categories: adventures, art, attractions, Baltimore, entertainment, ramblings, transportation | Leave a comment

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