Confirmation Hearing for New Police Commissioner Met With Protest

Confirmation Hearing for New Police Commissioner Met With Protest

Citizens protesting the hearing. Photo by Bonnie Lane.

A small group of concerned citizens gathered outside City Hall on October 17, 2012, to protest the hiring of Anthony W. Batts as Baltimore’s new police commissioner.

The Reverend Cortly “CD” Witherspoon welcomed fellow protestors, as well as the families of victims of police brutality. Anthony F. Anderson Sr. was killed by the BCPD on September 21, 2012. His mother, Edith Fletcher, and son, Anthony Jr., attended the protest.

Kay Adler of the All People’s Congress also attended. “I am very curious about how he was hired to do the job here. I hope that Commissioner Batts will have a different and positive experience here in Baltimore and that my first opinion will become invalid,” said Kay.

Witherspoon explained his concerns to the crowd. One discussed how Batts did not comply with a federal mandate while serving as Oakland's police chief. For example, Batts did not protect whistleblowers, identify problem officers and professionalize the Internal Affairs division.

“We don’t need to turn Baltimore into another Oakland. I don’t know what the mayor was thinking. Guess she wasn’t thinking. Neil Franklin is a local, capable, qualified candidate,” said Donna Simone Plamondon with Occupy Baltimore.

Major Franklin has been praised by Tyrone Powers, Ph.D. Director with the Homeland Security and Criminal Justice Institute. Powers is quoted in Michele Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow, describing Franklin as having the "integrity, leadership and diplomatic skills to make the BDP the most efficient, effective and protective police agency in the country."

Mothers of sons shot and murdered by the BCPD appeared to be some of the most vocal protestors today. Among them was Marcella Holloman. Holloman’s son, Maurice Donald Johnson, was killed by the BCPD. “My son’s death could have been prevented. There’s no reason he shouldn’t be here,“ she said.

Angela Evans, whose son Dennis Daniels was shot three times by the BCPD, said, “The officer couldn’t make up his mind why he shot my son. The officer said that he didn’t see a weapon.”

The Reverend Annie Chambers is the pastor of the African Spiritual Love Ministry. She joined the protest because the BCPD killed her two grandsons.

Auset Lewis, a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, also attended. "I’m here to question the mayor on whom she works for, the people or big business?,” Lewis said.

Sharon Black was the final speaker. Black explained how she and Witherspoon could not go into the hearing because they are banned from City Hall. Black and Witherspoon were arrested at City Hall for trespassing while trying to deliver a letter to the mayor.

Black and the Baltimore Peoples Assembly want to send a clear message to Batts that police brutality, abuse, killings and injustice will not be tolerated in Baltimore City.

BCPD bike cops stood off in the background and allowed the peaceful protest to go on.

Bonnie Lane writes for  Baltimore's newest street paper, Word on the Street. She has an associate of arts degree in public relations/journalism. Lane is a full-time writer, advocate and activist for the homeless and the 99%.