Sounds of Independent News - Headline 2 - April 2011

Sounds of Independent News - Headline 2 - April 2011

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Welcome back world! This is the second segment our Baltimore-centric (although not exclusive) headline-news-round-up called Sounds of Independent News. We are committed to posting snippets of independent news, to help equip and inform local social justice activists and organizations. We are committed to posting regular segments and updates. We solicit your important news and announcements, as well as any suggestions and ideas. Email us at:


Headlines for Late April 2011

Big Brother in Howard County
This week a public hearing was held in Howard County on the proposed placement of speed cameras in local school zones. The local community has been inflamed since the proposal. During a heated debate, one side proclaimed that this is the only way to really discourage speeding, the cameras provide the work that 5-10 officers would, and that child safety considerations must be the county's tantamount consideration. The other side argued that the speed cameras are ineffective, ideologically unsound as they impose a “big brother” effect, and merely a state-grab for quick cash in order to set-up the faulty devices.
A definitive vote is scheduled for May 2nd.

Demonstration Against Wealthy Tax Dodgers
On this years Tax Day, Monday, April 18, a dozen activists staged a demonstration at a Bank of America, in downtown Baltimore. They were highlighting the bank as an example of major corporations and banks that are able to dodge paying taxes and receive tax breaks. Bank of America is on Vermont Senator Bernie Sander’s list of 10 “deadbeat” corporations and banksters, who are charged with not paying their “fair share” and/or of “avoiding taxes.”.

While average citizens are still struggling through an economic crisis, these tax avoiding corporations and banks have made record profits.

Localize It!: Bnote Currency Launched
On Sunday, April 17th Baltimoreans came out en masse to enjoy a beautiful Spring day's fun at “Localize It!” A festival co-organized by The Baltimore Free Farm and the BNote Green Currency Association. The Baltimore Free Farm is a community-driven permaculture farm that supports the ideals of urban argiculture and local community and self-sustainability. BNote is an alternative economy local currency that celebrated its official launch at the festival.Through the participation of local vendors, multiple Baltimore Free Farm-led workshops and farm-tours, a Chilibrew contest for the best homebrew, and a jam-packed concert schedule of local musicians – the two organizations hoped that through inquisitive enjoyment and celebration, to make Baltimoreans question where they spend their money, where they get their food and brew from, what musicians and artists they support, and how we collectively empower our community.
BNotes went into official circulation.

The bills cast the faces of and quotes from local heroes: Frederick Douglas and Edgar Allen Poe, as well as the city's feathered mascots: The Raven and The Oriole.

Local currency can help keep money in a local economy, support local businesses, and sustain a community. With the quickly shattering US economy, Bnote advocates say that it is more important now than ever for our communities to take the necessary steps to sustain themselves. Many wait (and spend) eagerly to see the success of Bnotes.
Until then, “Localize It!”seemed to be Baltimore’s new favorite way to start the Spring season.

Historic Site of the Civil Rights Movement - Safe for the Moment
Earlier this month, In defiance to  Mayor Rawlings Blake, and city redevelopment officials, Baltimore’s preservation commission voted to add the historic Read’s Drugstore (located off of Howard Street) to a ‘special list’ of the city’s landmarks. This decision will protect the building and site from demolition for at least six months, as well as slow down a major $150 million development plan for the area.

In 1955, several Morgan State University students held a sit-in at the Read’s Drugstore to protest it’s policies of racial segregation. This was the nation’s first sit-in to desegregate lunch counters which would later play a significant role in launching the civil rights movement.

Earlier this year youth, labor, and racial justice activists held protests to halt the demolition of this infamous site and to protect it as a historical landmark to memorialize the legacies of the civil rights movement.

Queer-Led Protest Against Anti-Gay Group
Last Thursday, April 14th, 2011, hundreds of LGBTQ folks and allies gathered for a rainbow-decked counter-protest against five members of the highly public anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, who had taken up march near two local Fort Meade area schools.

This past legislative session Westboro Baptist was given the right to continue their protests at funerals for military members, where they loudly proclaimed that military deaths are God's punishment to the US for allowing homosexuality. MD's legislature says that these protests are within Westboro's constitutional free speech rights.
When it appeared that the anti-gay protesters were not planning on vacating high and middle school proximities anytime soon, community members exercised their own free speech rights and began organizing over social network sites for what was deemed “Meade Senior High School Counter-Strike”.

With hundreds of LGBTQ folk and allies turning out against a single-hand count of anti-gay protesters carrying signs taunting “Pray for More Dead Soldiers” – the statement rang, that while anti-gay protesters are allowed to march with statements of hate, it doesn't mean that others have to ignore them, let their daily shouts become normalized, or go without positive queer and ally reactions. Community members state that while the media is saturated with images of rampant and sensational homophobia, and while the last needed is to give Westboro Baptist more media coverage, it is direly important to have the targeted-LGBTQ-community give a powerful response, put into perspective that Westboro’s messages of hate are not of the majority, be a visible part of the conversation, and most importantly refuse to tolerate intolerance.

Denouncement Against Mexican Government’s Criminalization of Grassroots Activists
Members of the National Urban Peasant Council (CNUC in it’s Spanish initials), a grassroots organization based in the Mexican state of Tlaxcala, denounce government harassment and surveillance of their member Luz María Rivera. This past week two men, who were later identified as Tlaxcalan state police, where discovered spying on the home of Rivera and were observed following her when she left her home.

This comes days after CNUC held public demonstrations against a state law to allow for the selling and growing of genetically-modified corn, which has globally faced harsh criticism for the potential health, labor, and environmental risks it poses. Members of CNUC believe this harassment as part of an overall criminalization and intimidation of grassroots activists and social protest throughout Mexico, under the auspices of “Fighting Organized Crime”.

Luz María Rivera recently spoke at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and Red Emma’s Bookstore and Coffeehouse, on the rights and struggles of Tlaxcalan farmers, urban sex workers, on better education and social justice in Mexico.

Since the introduction of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, Tlaxcala has seen a two-fold increase of emigration to the United States and Canada.


Award-winning photojournalists Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington, were killed on Wednesday while on-the-ground in Libya. Their social justice media work has ranged from the renowned documentary “Restrepo” that chronicles a United States Army Platoon's deployment in northeastern Afghanistan to critical independent coverage of brutality in Iraq to most recently photographing secret police files on the brutality of the Gaddafi regime.

Karim Fakhrawi, dedicated independent journalist and founder of Bahrain's daily newspaper - Al-Wasat, was found dead on April 12, 2011. Fakhrawi was arrested in the heat of the country's civil unrest for alleged "deliberate news fabrication and falsification". He was murdered while in state custody.

Mohammed al-Nabbous of Libya Al-Hurra TV was killed by an unknown shooter on March 19th while covering the armed conflict in Benghazi, Libya. Mohammed was well-known for his streaming live audio coverage of the street conflicts and for posting continuous commentary on the uprising.

Baltimore's own UMBC graduate, writer, and freelance journalist Matthew VanDyke has been missing since March 12th while covering the civil upheaval in Libya. He is believed to be detained by Gaddafi forces. The Committee to Protect Journalists is working to find VanDyke.


Students and Workers Rally for a Fair Contract
3pm this Friday, April 22nd local university Aramark food-service workers gather to demand better pay, decent benefits, fair hours, and stable job conditions. They need your support to make their message heard. The rally will take place by the Sidney Lanier Statue at Johns Hopkins University on North Charles Street to fight for their rights.

Free Political Prisoner Marshal Eddie Conway Rally
Noon this Saturday, April 23rd come out to the rally at the Thurgood Marshall Monument in Downtown Baltimore, on the corner of  Pratt and Sharp Streets. This is for former Black Panther Eddie Conway who has been imprisoned for over 40 years, allegedly for the murder of a police officer. Evidence strongly suggests that Eddie was wrongly imprisoned for his political activism. April 23rd is Eddie’s birthday - come out to demand for his retrial and freedom.

The United Workers for Fair Development
On Thursday April 28th in NYC, Baltimore’s United Workers - a human rights organization led by low-wage workers fighting for fair and sustainable development, will be participating in the Fair Development Forum. They will be presenting the“Hidden in Plain Sight,” report, that takes a behind the scenes look at the human cost of Poverty-Zone Development at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. In conjunction with the release of the report, United Workers is holding a series of forums to connect the fight for Fair Development at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor to other struggles at the intersection of poverty, development, and human rights. To find out more go to

Second Annual "The Rooms Play"
Starting the evening of Friday April 29th at the Whole Gallery on Franklin Street. The Copycat Theatre will be opening it’s second annual Rooms Play - a “ collaborative, immersive theatrical experience that asks the viewer to become a participant in the performance” - This years theme is on immigration, and the experience of documented and undocumented migrants and immigrants - through the issues of power, control and choice.

This years The Rooms Play is part of the Transmodern Festival. To find out more go to









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