Press Advisory: For Immediate Release
For media queries, please contact the Schools Not Jails Media Team: (410) 849-9626 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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: https://schoolsnotjails.wordpress.com | For specific photo requests, especially from the period when press were blocked from the site, please email email@example.com.
For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact the Schools Not Jails Media Team: (410) 849-9626 | firstname.lastname@example.org