Sounds of Independent News - Headline 5 - August 2011

Sounds of Independent News - Headline 5 - August 2011


Hello world! Hope you’ve had a good summer- we’ve missed you! Welcome back to 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:



CWA Workers Strike!

On Sunday, August 7th, 45,000 Verizon workers went on strike. The Communication Workers of America (CWA) and (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) are leading the strike- declaring that worker rights need to be fervently protected. Strike demonstrations have broken out nationwide, including in numerous locales- both Baltimore City and County wide. Many individuals and groups, including Baltimore’s branch of the Industrial Workers of the World, turned out to stand in solidarity with picketers. Baltimore’s protests have been peaceful, but other demonstrations have resulted in violence and arrests. Workers plan to strike until their demands are met.
Verizon is statistically one of the country’s most profitable corporations, earning over $32.5 billion in the past 3 years. Similarly, in that time, they have received $1 billion in tax benefits from the federal government. Verizon has never paid anything in corporate income taxes.

Even though the corporation is making billions in profit, they are now demanding their workers give back $1 billion dollars in pension, health, and various other contract concessions.

The strike is set to last ‘til the workers demands are met.

East Baltimore Gentrification Plan Faces Resistance

For the second time within two weeks, residents of the Middle East Neighborhood in East Baltimore strongly criticized, at a community meeting, an 88-acre redevelopment plan that has been underway, since 2002. The 1.8 billion dollar plan set in-motion by the Forest City East Baltimore Partnership was to construct two bio-research labs for Johns Hopkins University and some 2,000 new or renovated homes. In 2004, more than 400 primarily low-income families were displaced by construction and since then, only two families have moved back into the neighborhood. Out of the 2,000 planned homes, only 219 have been constructed.

Many in Middle East Baltimore have complained that the plan was set into motion with little-to-no consent with community members and that it is yet another plan for gentrification in Baltimore. Donald Gresham, a former long-time resident, who was displaced by the plan, was quoted stating."It seems to be a draft, but at the end of the day, it becomes final. If we can't live in the place we historically belong, it doesn't matter what we say.".

Johnny Coleman of the community group Middle East Truth and Reconciliation Council stated, "We're the low-man on the totem pole,"

"We're gonna get what they give. This group has been screwed royally. The dye has been cast."

Even amid this pessimism, the concerns, of the residents at the meeting, were able to halt some aspects of the plan to move forward.

Anti-Immigrant Laws in Virginia Increase Maryland Latino Population

According to census data released this past Thursday, the Latino population, primarily Central American, has increased significantly in the State of Maryland. Between 2000 and 2010, more than half of the states growth has been Latino, of about 480,000 people.

Many migrant rights activists attribute this growth not just to migrants moving in from other countries but also due to intolerant immigrant laws in Virginia. In 2008, Virginia’s Prince William County put into effect a law that requires all law enforcement to check the legal status of anyone arrested for a crime. Essentially giving local police and law enforcement authorities powers that have historically been reserved for the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents or ICE.

The State of Virginia has also stopped accepting federal work permits as proof of legal status when one seeks to obtain a drivers licence, simply reducing opportunities, rights, and accessibility for migrants in Virginia. Thus, many migrants have left the state to surrounding areas, such as Maryland.

City cuts down trees for Grand Prix

On August 5th, local Baltimoreans filed a complaint and motion for injunction against the City  for “needlessly removing trees for the Grand Prix” and allegedly violating city policy by not giving city citizens five days notice before implementing tree removal by posting a sign on each tree that is slated to be uprooted. It is thought that over 100 downtown trees have been removed in order to place stands along the projected race course. There were over 4,000 signatures gathered to protest the tree removal. However, the judge ruled in favor of the defendants: Baltimore Racing Development. The sought temporary restraining order, aiming to halt anymore tree removal, was not granted.

The Grand Prix organization released a plan stating their commitment to replant 139 trees downtown within a year of the Labor Day race. Critics contend that the planned new trees do not justly replace the uprooted trees that had been there for decades. And that there is no way to hold BRD accountable if they go bankrupt or if their planted trees die.

It is unclear if proper permits were acquired for all of these removals, and it appears that the removals were done in violation of Federal OSHA standard.

Biker Rights Made Visible After Cyclist’s Tragic Death
Twenty-year old Nathan Krasnopoler died Wednesday, August 10th, surrounded by family and friends. He had been left comatose since February 26th after he was hit by a car while biking on West University Pkwy. Nathan was cycling in a marked bike lane, while wearing a helmet, when a driver turned right in front of him and crashed the side of her car against his bike- trapping Nathan underneath her car.
He never regained consciousness.
Soon after the incident, a Baltimore Poice Department spokesperson claimed that the accident had been Nathan’s fault. The cycling community bound together in outrage - demanding that cyclists’ rights be recognized. The police department apologized. Nathan’s family won a $10 million lawsuit against the driver - forcing both her and her insurance company to pay undisclosed sums. The driver also had to forfeit her license.
Nathan’s family states:
“Unfortunately, with each of these tragedies, the public and the police are becoming more aware of and careful about the rights of cyclists.”
Nathan was a Johns Hopkins University computer science major. He will be remembered for his “powerful intellectual curiosity” and “gentle spirit”.

Baltimore Police Officers Involved in Towing Scam
Four Baltimore police officers have recently plead guilty to federal extortion charges.They, along with a max fifty other police, were allegedly involved in a three-year long scam to drive business to a Rosedale, MD towing company, known as Majestic Auto Repair. The company was not approved by the city and many involved officers received $150 to $300 per referred vehicle. Over $1 million was spent in bribing Baltimore officers. Seventeen officers have been arrested- fourteen of which have been assigned desk jobs until their trials have been completed. Convicted police could face up to 20 years in prison and a thousands in fines.


Januwa Moja: The Art of Adornment: Transformation through Textiles
Saturday, August 20 | 3pm
@ Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture

Celebrate the art of adornment with Januwa Moja, an artist and master designer with more than 40 years of experience creating wearable art. Januwa Moja presents her workshop "Regality Reality" on how she combines traditional African dress and jewelry as a celebration of culture and challenge to status quo standards of beauty. In conjunction with the exhibit Material Girls: Contemporary Black Women Artists.

The Femme Show: Baltimore
Saturday, August 20 |  8:00pm - 11:00pm
@ The Windup Space

The Femme Show is queer art for queer people, with a variety of diverse perspectives on queer femininity that can be thoughtful, sad, funny, sexy, and fun. On their August East Coast tour, a stellar cast will bring The Femme Show’s unique perspective on femininity, gender, queerness and sexuality to cities throughout the Northeast. Now in it’s fifth year, The Femme Show uses dance, burlesque, drag, spoken word, puppets, and more to give audiences new ways and new reasons to think about gender, femininity, and desire. With special performances from Baltimore darlings: LOVE the Poet and Roma Mafia.

Movement Against the Drug War Model in Mexico
Thursday, August 25 | 7:00PM
@ Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse

Since 2006, more than 40,000 people have died in the so-called "War on Drugs" in Mexico. The news and media portrays this dramatic spike in violence as a result of the growth and power of ruthless Mexican drug cartels. However, it was in 2006 when Felipe Calderon was elected to be Mexcio's President and set into motion policies to directly confront the cartels with the military. Thus, many argue that this violence is a direct result of the greater militarization of the country, the majority of the victims not being cartel members -  nor the military, but ordinary citizens.

Out of this dark news, a citizens movement is growing, not just demanding justice for the innocent victims of this war, but rather going to the roots of the problem and calling for fundamental social and political changes.

This will be a reportback and discussion on the growing peace movement; it's dynamics and hopes, and why it all matters to us in the United States.

EGGPLANT Faerie Players

Saturday, August 27 | 8:00pm - 11:00pm
@ The Creative Alliance

"Welcome to Homo Hollow: 17 years of queer country living in 17 outfits"

MaxZine and TomFoolery are joined by Chicago bassist/cellist Maya Jensen for this tour. This show reflects their experiences of living in a queer intentional community in Tennessee for the last 17 years. They use juggling (of course), circus , music, drag, storytelling and theater to tell their tales from life in the country.