The fight for justice takes many forms

Photo of the late Anton Black from the Facebook page of a coalition seeking justice for his death in police custody.
Families seek justice in different ways, and for different reasons.

Today, we've got stories of two quests for justice -- one brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the other the product of something at least as dangerous and destructive: societal racism.


Yesterday, the family of Anton Black, the Eastern Shore teenager who died two-plus years ago immediately after being in police custody, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against a long list of government agencies and law enforcement authorities.

The suit, filed by the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black and members of Black’s family and backed by the Maryland chapter of the ACLU, claims excessive force and racial bias led to the teenager's death by “positional asphyxiation” and alleges that a cover-up followed involving the state medical examiner and police personnel from the Eastern Shore towns of Greensboro, Ridgley and Centreville.

In their suit, the plaintiffs seek a minimum of $75,000 in compensatory damages from each of the named defendants, plus an unspecific request of punitive damages, along with policy reforms designed to limit the unbridled authority of law enforcement agencies.

In a statement, the ACLU called the case “a clear example of how white supremacy functions to deny accountability for misconduct and racial bias.”

A spokesman for the chief medical examiner’s office of Maryland said the agency would not comment. Officials from the towns named in the lawsuit did not respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, in a different kind of fight for justice, students at the University of Maryland at College Park and Towson University are close to being freed from their leases at apartment buildings owned by the Maryland Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO).

Unlike students in university dorms, who were able to get out of their leases for this academic year after COVID-19 hit, students who lived in the MEDCO-owned housing were being compelled to pay their rent, whether in-person instruction was taking place on campus or not.

The University of Maryland College Park is planning to sign an agreement with MEDCO to release students from their leases “within the week,” Carlo Colella, the vice president for Administration and Finance at the university told state lawmakers yesterday. Officials are currently “sandpapering” the edges of the agreement, Colella said.

Towson University and MEDCO reached a similar agreement earlier this week.

The lack of flexibility in the midst of a pandemic infuriated students and their families — and it has taken months to sort through the disputes.

“Seeing is believing,” said Del. Ben Barnes (D-Prince George’s), the chairman of the House Appropriations Education and Economic Development Subcommittee, whose district includes the University of Maryland campus.
 

IN OTHER NEWS
What's up with the vaccines? During a pre-holiday news conference yesterday designed to prevent a spike in post-holiday coronavirus cases, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) conceded he was not sure what to make of national media reports suggesting that some states won’t be receiving all the doses of the COVID-19 vaccines that they were anticipating. Some of Hogan’s fellow governors told media outlets they had been told that their states’ second allotments of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine next week had been reduced, without explanation.

Hogan said the state was trying to get some clarification from the federal government and the company about allotments for Maryland, but pointed out that federal officials planned to provide states with weekly vaccine delivery “projections” every Friday.

“It’s not going to impact our first batches, for the first week or two, which were the only ones that were essentially cast in stone,” he said. Hogan asserted that every hospital and nursing care facility in the state would have vaccines in hand by next week, if they haven’t received them already.

Hogan at the news conference also announced new travel restrictions and more funding for needy Maryland families and businesses.

Lierman is first to jump in comptroller's race: Del. Brooke E. Lierman (D-Baltimore City) announced last night that she plans to run for state comptroller in 2022 – an office she hopes to use to close the racial wealth gap in Maryland. With four-term Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) planning to run for governor, Lierman became the first candidate to jump into the race to succeed him -- though others could follow.

A key role for Trone: U.S. Rep. David J. Trone (D-Md.) will serve on the powerful House Appropriations Committee in the next Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced last night.

Record health sign-ups in Md.: A record number of Maryland residents signed up for health insurance using the state’s Obamacare health portal during this year’s enrollment period, which ended on Tuesday.

Friends in high places: An associate of a powerful former state lawmaker is one of three new Circuit Court judges nominated by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) yesterday.

Appealing to Biden for transit funding: Leaders of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia yesterday urged the incoming Biden administration to increase its support for the agency that provides transit service in the capital region.

An honor for Mikulski on Capitol Hill: A room in the U.S. Capitol has been named in honor of retired U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D), the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Maryland and the longest-serving woman in Senate history.

Today's commentary: The debate over whether Maryland should join the regional Transportation Climate Initiative continues, with an executive of a Baltimore company that manufactures parts for zero emissions vehicles arguing that it will be a boon for the climate and the economy.

Sales and Use Tax - Rate Reduction and Services

Full document in PDF: hb1628.pdf

State and Local Procurement - Payment Practices

Pages 2 and 3: sb933-2.jpg , sb933-3.jpg

Full document in PDF: sb933.pdf

GBBCC's Letter of support of  Senate Bill 933

What You Should Know About the $15 Minimum Wage Legislation

Pages 2 and 3: Page 2.jpg , Page 3.jpg

Full document in PDF: Fight for $15 (1).pdf

GBBCC's Letter of support of  Senate Bill 442


You can find the text and fiscal and policy note for Senate Bill 442 by clicking this link (http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Legislation/Details/sb0442) and clicking on the bill number (SB0442) or clicking on the words "Fiscal and Policy Note." 

Greater Baltimore Black Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c) 4 non-profit organization. 1325 Bedford Avenue, Suite 5941; Pikesville, MD 21282

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