May 1, 2015 1:22 pm ET
Community vents anger and frustration at city response to beating while second arrest made in case
Source: Speaking Up, Speaking Out
Please note that with the added photos there are no captions. Unfortunately that is a NY problem and may be resolved soon.
Update: The Baltimore County Police Department announced a second arrest in this case. He is 17 year old Antoine Willie Lawson who is being charged as an adult with first and second degree assault. He is being held without bail at the Baltimore County Detention Center.
I just want you folks be prepared to hear the high tension in my recording over this problem,—the tension ultimately lead the meeting ending abruptly over safety concerns. The tape recording is listed below.
I previously wrote about a gentleman who was the victim of a vicious beating. This blog focuses on the community meeting that was held regarding that incident. I attended the meeting, which seemed almost fitting given the general mood around the Baltimore area this week.
Arriving early at the Baltimore Community High School, I watched as local residents poured into the meeting area. They simply kept coming and coming—a tremendous turnout to say the least. Then the politicians began to arrive. There were too many to name every politico that attended, but let me just say that they could have filled quite a number of seats at the empty Camden Yards during yesterday’s Orioles game. The meeting was sponsored by the Harbor View Community Association.
Also present were members of the Baltimore City School Police, along with North Point’s new Captain Orlando Lilly, a county lieutenant and detective.
At first I thought this might be a night of progress on dealing with the scourge cast upon the surrounding communities. I figured when I saw Marshall Goodwin, the Chief of the Baltimore School Police force, along with some of his officers, at least there would be order.
There was a sign-up sheet for those attending the meeting, and school officials provided another one for those who wished to speak. In addition, index cards were passed out for attendees to submit questions.
The first speaker spared no details in addressing the packed meeting area, which appeared to be the school gymnasium. “This is no longer an issue; it’s a problem,” the speaker said.
And then, as the saying goes, it was “off to the races.”
To summarize (and you won’t read this in the Sun), speaker after speaker spoke of their encounters with what they referred to as “thugs” (among other adjectives). These people spoke of dealing with people urinating on their property, throwing rocks through windows, attacking pets, cursing at members of the community, blocking traffic, fighting, and constantly intimidating community members. This has pushed people into a complete and total sense of absolute frustration and fear—a fear so palpable that many residents locked themselves inside their homes while these so called “students/children” (a term used by the principal) roamed the various communities.
Then the room literally exploded into what was a screaming and shouting match directed at the city school officials. The spark that ignited this confrontation was a remark by the school’s principal, Leslie Lewis, about these “children and students.” Needless to say, those terms set off a frenzy of crowd response about how these 14 to 21 year olds were not students (in the true sense of the term) but rather criminals and thugs who just happened to still attend school.
Once the shouting began, all sense of order was lost.
I must give credit to the city school administrators for standing there and taking the grief put forward by the crowd. The administrators became scapegoats for a failed school system. Furthermore, according to Delegate Pat McDonough, the whole system of government failed the schools and everyone associated with them.
Speaking of Delegate McDonough, tomorrow I will publish a handout he gave to the members of the audience prior to the meeting. I think you’ll appreciate the read.
As things continued to escalate, the political leaders attempted to step in and restore order. The first pol who tried to calm the crowd was 6th District State Senator Johnny Sailing. He spoke passionately about the need to work together. That calmed the crowd down … for about a minute.
Seventh District Councilman Todd Crandell also attempted to intercede, and he was mildly successful. However, the calm was short lived due to the high tension in the room and the continued discussion of the subject matter.
Some people screamed out, “Where are the police???” given this has been a long-standing problem. I asked the same question in my last blog, where I directed my outrage toward Chief Johnson. After all, the buck stops on his desk.
Another speaker yelled out, asking where Congressman Ruppersberger was, since the Congressman sent an aide in his absence.
Some city politicians stood up to speak, but many in the crowd were not interested in hearing the same old political rhetoric.
One member of the audience walked around with a picture of the victim that was taken after the brutal attack.
Simply put, it was like throwing gasoline on a bonfire.
Donations were collected for the victim (whose name I won’t use for his privacy concerns), and one person gave a $200 cash donation.
Baltimore City Executive Director, Office of Engagement A. Hassan Charles had the most impact by telling the crowd how embarrassed he was over the entire situation and how he accepted responsibility for letting the community down. Folks, that took courage and showed leadership.
He vowed to deal with the situation, and—you know what?—I believe him.
After all, when a leader actually acts like a leader, he deserves to be followed … or at least given the benefit of the doubt.
Let us not forget about the true victim of this brutal crime and hope for a full recovery.
Warning language may be offensive to some.