Fall 2007 Issue 6

Fall 2007 Issue 6

Introduction: 

In this issue we look at crime and the role of the police in Baltimore. In many ways this was a response to the recent elections and the various candidates’ use of the threat of crime and offers of safety to appeal to voters. Much like the War on Terror, the charge of being “soft on crime” is used to contain the debate. It becomes a perpetual battle over police tactics with each politician outlying their particular brand, whether it is “zero tolerance” or a “community policing model”. This containment of the debate has an uncanny ability to redirect our focus from the root causes of most crime—severe economic and social injustice in the United States. Last fall, we covered a similar issue, the criminal justice system. We go beyond defining a model of restorative justice towards a transformative justice model, finding examples in Baltimore. We look at the Community Conferencing Center, which facilitates resolutions between parties involved in crime outside of the court system. We visit the Rose St. Community Center to see how one strong community organization works with youth to create spaces and opportunities that counter a system that channels poor youth into prison or low-wage jobs or both. As usual, we seek to include a historical perspective by providing a timeline of the Baltimore Police Department and recalling a forgotten event in Baltimore’s labor history––the Police strike of 1974. Another look at the “Stop snitching” debate sees communities torn between two different understandings of law and justice. In contrast to the many Baltimoreans who find themselves the target of arrest by merely standing on the corner, a veteran activist shares his stories of confrontation with the police through civil disobedience. As in last fall’s issue, we consider the campaign to free political prisoner, Eddie Conway. As a former Black Panther, Eddie Conway continues to experience the lengths to which our government has gone and will go to stamp out a political movement. Not only is his continuing incarceration a blatant and well documented example of injustice, but judicial and political authorities use it as a threat to anyone fighting for justice. We are not swayed by this threat, and like Eddie Conway, we encourage people to become more active in confronting oppression and exploitation. We hope that this issue redirects the focus of the debate on crime to ending economic injustice. —AH

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