Friday, January 20 | 4PM | War Memorial Plaza: The Schools Not Jails Recreation Occupation!

Celebrate the end of a successful week of action with the Schools Not Jails Occupation! Please forward widely!

On Monday, January 16, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, the Schools Not Jails Occupation took to the streets of Baltimore, brought public attention to the struggle against the State of Maryland’s plan to build a $104 million youth jail in East Baltimore – the budget for which could easily supplement and expand the City of Baltimore’s education funding, and prevent our recreation centers from being closed or privatized. We entered the site of the proposed detention center, and built a little red schoolhouse on the empty lot, to symbolize our desire for a city that prioritizes Schools, not Jails. On Wednesday, governor Martin O’Malley released his 2014 budget, and conspicuously absent is the $104 million to build the youth jail – this is a reason to celebrate! But we also need to keep the pressure up on our city and state government to re-priortize the allocation of public funds for constructive aims: we want education, not incarceration; prevention, not detention!

On Friday, January 20, to celebrate a successful week of action, we will converge at War Memorial Plaza (in front of City Hall) at 4PM for Baltimore’s first Public Recreation Day! Bring footballs, art supplies, hula hoops, jump ropes, books and other creative activities; let’s turn War Memorial Plaza – which is public property – into a recreation center for the afternoon, and welcome the citizens of Baltimore for an hour (or two) of good, high-energy, fun as we demonstrate what the alternatives to a youth detention center could look like.

At 7PM, at 2640 Saint Paul Street, Schools Not Jails will host a workshop on participatory alternatives to the city’s proposed austerity measures, in preparation for the mayor’s open budgeting hearing on the morning of January 21, at Cylburn Arboretum. The workshop and the mayor’s budget hearing are open to all interested Baltimore residents!

For more information, visit http://schoolsnotjails.wordpress.com | Bring friends & family – this is our time for recreation and celebration!

Baltimore Brew editor Fern Shen deserves major recognition for her phenomenal piece on yesterday’s Schools Not Jails kickoff rally and action. Shen was one of the few journalists who didn’t run when the police insisted that all media leave the site last night and began to cordon off the area, and today posted this phenomenal article outlining the evening’s events:

http://www.baltimorebrew.com/2012/01/17/occupy-baltimore-and-media-booted-from-public-sidewalk-near-youth-jail-site/

Also there until the wee hours was Urbanite‘s J.M. Giordano – we thank both of them for their hard work and devotion to real independent journalism, as well as the folks from Baltimore’s Indypendent Reader, our very own movement media, also there with us until the very end of the night. Independent journalism is a critical part of social movement building, and Baltimore is lucky to have folks like this in our midst!

Organizers arrived at 600 East Monument this morning to set up for breakfast–carting pots of coffee, and the makings of some really excellent oatmeal–to find a strong presence from the Baltimore City Police Department, and the State Police. After taking video of four organizers unloading cars and creating a makeshift lean-to from a tarp tied between two trees to provide shelter from the rain, a group of officers approached the organizers and insisted that they were “not allowed to be there,” despite having been told yesterday by the Department of Public Safety that it was understood that a full program of events was planned for the site, and that as long as those events were not actually inside the fence around the youth jail site, there would not be any problems.

Officers refused to allow the organizers to serve food or have any sort of shelter against the rain, and threatened arrest. Though we stalled as long as possible, we were outnumbered 4-1, and we were forced to leave the site or take arrest.

We WILL continue with the program of scheduled events every evening this week! Tonight, meet at the site at 6PM for a delicious dinner and a teach-in on youth and the prison-industrial complex with members of Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle. Call City Hall during the day today and implore the mayor’s office to allow the events to go on, and ask that organizers be able to provide shelter from the rain! Here are the relevant numbers:

Mayor’s number 410 396 4900
Carl Stokes (council member for that area) 410 396 5550

Be sure to tell Carl Stokes that we would love to see him down at the site any evening this week!

Press Advisory: For Immediate Release
For media queries, please contact the Schools Not Jails Media Team: (410) 849-9626 | schoolsnotjails@gmail.com

JANUARY 17: SCHOOLS NOT JAILS ORGANIZERS WILL RETURN TO SITE, DESPITE ARRESTS

Organizers of today’s Schools Not Jails Occupation kickoff rally and action say that they have no plans to cancel the program of events planned to take place at the proposed site of the juvenile detention center in East Baltimore this week, despite arrests and an aggressive police presence earlier today. Tuesday’s program of events begins with breakfast at the site at 8AM, and ends with a 6PM dinner and a teach-in on Youth and the Prison Industrial Complex with Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle at 7PM. All are invited to attend.

The Schools Not Jails Occupation, in collaboration with Occupy Baltimore and the Baltimore Algebra Project, is a five-day action designed to call into question the budgeting priorities of the State of Maryland and the City of Baltimore by highlighting the unnecessary allocation of $100 million in state funds for the construction of a 180-bed youth detention facility–an amount that would cover the annual budget shortfall that threatens to close or privatize the Baltimore City Recreation Centers for 333 years.

Earlier on January 16, after a boisterous rally at the corner of Fallsway and Madison, in front of Central Booking, over 150 people marched to 600 E. Monument, where six organizers entered the enclosure and proceeded to erect a large wooden schoolhouse on the proposed site of the youth jail, and a Baltimore City high school teacher gave a lesson on Frederick Douglass. Earlier in the day, Wendell France, Commissioner of Pretrial Detention & Services at the Maryland Department of Public Safety, had told organizers that they would not be allowed onto the site of the proposed youth jail, stating safety concerns, but said that the State of Maryland’s jurisdiction ended there, and stated that he had no problem with protestors on the sidewalk outside of the site’s chain-link boundary. Baltimore City Police, however, did seem to have a problem with the Occupation’s use of the sidewalk, and brought dozens of police officers in full riot gear to create a barrier between activists and their military tent, erected on the sidewalk to provide shelter for those planning to remain at the site through the night. Police forced members of the press to leave the site, and then tore down the tent, which was taken away in a city sanitation truck. State Police then proceeded to tear down the schoolhouse that had been constructed inside the chain-link fence around the youth jail site.

Organizers say that, despite the six arrests and the loss of the tent, the first day of the action achieved their ultimate goal: calling attention to the planned construction of the youth jail, and demonstrating to the city and state governments that the residents of Baltimore City have different priorities for public spending and want to have a say in how public funds are dispersed. Organizers plan to spend the week discussing alternatives to the problems in Baltimore that the jail is intended to address, and bring proposals to the mayor’s participatory budget hearing at Cylburn Arboretum on January 21.

Video of the day’s events, as well as images, may be found at the Schools Not Jails website shortly: http://schoolsnotjails.wordpress.com | For specific photo requests, especially from the period when press were blocked from the site, please email schoolsnotjails@gmail.com.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact the Schools Not Jails Media Team: (410) 849-9626 | schoolsnotjails@gmail.com

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This just in from the Baltimore Sun:

Occupy Baltimore plans 5-day encampment
Members protest proposed juvenile detention center
By Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun
January 16, 2012

A month after being evicted from a park near the Inner Harbor, members of Occupy Baltimore plan to camp out for five days starting Monday at the site of a proposed juvenile detention center in East Baltimore.

The “Schools Not Jails Occupation” is scheduled to start with a 3 p.m. rally at Central Booking on East Madison Street, according to an e-mail from Casey McKeel, a member of Occupy Baltimore’s legal team. The protesters then plan march to the site of the proposed jail for a five-day encampment, where they want to stay until Saturday morning.

“The encampment is open to anyone willing to act with openness and respect,” McKeel wrote. “While a core group of individuals have committed to keeping a 24-hour presence at the site throughout the week, organizers hope the encampment will grow over the course of the five days, and encourage the participation of all residents of the city of Baltimore at the workshops and teach-ins throughout the week.”

The Occupy members are coordinating the event with the Baltimore Algebra Project, a non-profit group that works to improve public education. The groups say money allocated for the jail should instead be spent on education and youth-recreation programs.

In December, the city evicted Occupy Baltimore protesters during an early-morning raid at McKeldin Square, where the activists had been staying for about 10 weeks.

Rally at Central Booking, 300 E Madison

With:

Lester Spence (JHU)

Maryland Shaw (Baltimore Algebra Project)

John Duda (Another BDC Is Possible)

Nicole Cheatom (Baltimore Algebra Project)

Iris Kirsch (Occupy Baltimore & Baltimore City Schools)

and more!

Bring signs, noisemakers, and all of your friends & coworkers to rally in support of this week-long action! At 4PM, we will march to the proposed site of the juvenile detention center (600 E. Monument) where we will begin setting up the encampment. All are welcome to join us!

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