Urbanism

Photo by Bill Hughes.

One of Baltimore's best street journalists, Bill Hughes, covered two actions from last week. On Tuesday, July 2nd, a demonstration was held at the Social Security Headquarters in Woodlawn, where activists spoke out against proposed cuts to Social Security benefits. On Friday, July 5, hundreds of Baltimore males march against violence on North Avenue.

Photo By: Sarah Liz Perrich. You can follow her blog about current life in Turkey (including the Turkish uprisings) here: http://agentlabroad.wordpress.com/

A little over a year ago, I found myself sitting in a newly-opened kitchen-café space in the Petralona area of Athens, sharing reflections on Occupy Wall Street with Greeks from the neighborhood's Popular Assembly. Popular Assemblies sprang up all across the city during the 2008 uprising sparked by the police murder of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos.

Gezi Park Protests. Photo By: Sarah Liz Perrich

Koş means run in Turkish. When you hear it while you're behind a barricade, you do not ask questions, you run. This is the best way to avoid physical harm, whether from a gas cannister intentionally aimed at the head or trampling.

Eleven percent of teachers would vote to extend the contract. Photo by: Iris Kirsch.

October 14 of 2010 was a monumental day. On that day, the Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU), Local 340 of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), voted down the contract which had been put before us by so-called labor-management cooperation. After some shenanigans, the contract passed in a re-vote, and workers in Baltimore schools have been suffering under the pseudo-merit-pay system for three years. Now, negotiations are back open.

"Occupy Gezi" Action in NYC.

In recent weeks, a parcel of land that had been vacant for two decades in the southern portion of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was seized by New York City environmental direct action group Time’s Up, and converted into what the collective called the “Nothing Yet Community Garden.” It was an action that fell within the group’s quarter-century history, recalling collaborative work to defend community gardens similarly establi

Lee-Jackson Monument in Baltimore, MD. Photo By: Kate Drabinski
Baltimore is a city with a vexed relationship to its own Civil War past, and for good reason. Maryland never seceded from the Union, but its citizens leaned strongly toward the Confederacy. Any schoolchild from or tourist to Baltimore knows the first blood of the Civil War was shed here, in the Pratt Street Riots, violence that ensued when Baltimoreans attacked Union soldiers heading south through the city for war.
At a rally organized by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers last thursday, May 30, students stand alongside their teachers, defiant and strong, to protest the closing of 23 more of Philadelphia's public schools and the gutting of school services. Photo by: Iris Kirsch.

Last month, hundreds of thousands of Philadelphians, mostly high school students, took to the streets to protest the closing of twenty-three schools and the discontinuation of vital programs such as athletic and arts activities, nurses and mental health counselors, and school libraries.

Alicia Kirkland and Michele Decker (seated) at Trading Safety for Violence event. (Photo by Bonnie Lane)

I attended a serious event Wednesday called Trading Safety For Survival. The Facebook event depicts it as “A Conversation about Violence Against Women in the Sex Trade and the Police Who are Asked to Protect them.”

It was sponsored by Power Inside. According to their flyer, Power Inside is “a nonprofit program for women impacted by incarceration, street life and abuse. Our services help women build self-sufficiency, heal from violence and avoid future criminal justice contact.”

Image source: hbo.com

Although The Wire is utterly brilliant in depicting the parallel hierarchies of power across organizations and the connections from City Hall to the loading docks to streets, there is one critical group missing from the show: progressive activists and advocates. Our progressive activism and advocacy for sustainability and social justice bears witness to the fact that we do not adhere to notions of preordination; nor do we subscribe to the supremacy of modern city institutions. City institutions in Baltimore continue to create negative outcomes because we have not built and sustained the social movements and organizations necessary to hold them accountable and compel them to be responsive to the needs of the people.

May Day 2013 in NYC Photo By: Joshua Stephens

It was still mild enough such that light sleeves or a hoodie were sufficient, when Occupy Wall Street first stepped out with the major labor unions as Fall stretched its legs in 2011. The jog between Foley Square and Zuccotti Park can be put at spitting distance, without much exaggeration, but a march was staged between the two, nonetheless.

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