More than 1,100 leaders turn out for June 6th Accountability Action with Baltimore Mayor Pugh.
On June 6, over 1,100 people from all walks of life, ethnic backgrounds, and belief systems gathered at Kingdom Life Church in West Baltimore to call on Mayor Catherine Pugh to make specific commitments toward reducing violence in Baltimore. New BUILD member institutions Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Patrick’s Catholic Churches from South Baltimore turned out en masse. Together, Sacred Heart and St. Patrick’s brought over 500 people, most of them immigrants, who stood together and were recognized and supported by all in attendance.
The purpose of the action was to reset BUILD’s public relationship with Mayor Pugh and publicly state our demands to reduce the violence in Baltimore. Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises, Baltimore City Council President Jack Young, and other city and state leaders were present at the assembly.
Over the past several months, BUILD issue action teams have researched and developed their top priorities for reducing violence in the city, focusing on issues in the areas of policing & public safety, mental health & addiction, youth opportunities & education, and jobs. The teams’ research was supported by data from BUILD’s 2017 listening campaign of 1,034 residents across Baltimore City. BUILD teams have developed clearly defined goals and demands of Baltimore city’s leaders, including Mayor Pugh.
In the weeks preceding the accountability assembly, BUILD leaders met with Mayor Pugh to define the relationship, clarify expectations, and agree on a format for the assembly. She changed her schedule to attend the action.
On June 6, Mayor Pugh sat in the front row as community leaders —including student leaders from three City schools—shared personal stories that highlighted the urgency of the crisis in the city and demanded that she fulfill her commitments to:
- End the culture of corruption in the Baltimore Police Department and increase foot posts;
- Implement a parish ID system to protect the immigrant community of Baltimore;
- Champion Kirwan Commission recommendations to fully fund Baltimore City schools, ensure the presence of mental health professionals in schools (social workers and counselors), and maintain current levels of out-of-school and community school funding in the budget for the duration of her administration;
- Work with BUILD and corporate leaders to increase employment for those ready and able to work
Youth leaders from City Springs Elementary/Middle School and Hampstead Hill Academy eloquently and forcefully spoke of kids as young as 10 and 11 writing wills in fear of losing their lives to violence. One young man shared that every day he looks out his school windows and sees the place where Ray Glasgow III, a former student at City Springs, was killed. “I don’t want to be another Ray,” he said.
Antoinette Mugar, Vice President of Harlem Park West Community Association, spoke of being burglarized twice in the last month and being ready to leave the community in which she has resided her whole life. Donald Medley, Turnaround Tuesday leader and Community Health Worker at Johns Hopkins Hospital, countered the myth that Baltimore City doesn’t want to work and celebrated the 500+ people placed in living-wage jobs through Turnaround Tuesday.
Ever Castillo—speaking in both Spanish and English—shared the heartbreaking story of his experience being targeted by criminals who laughed in his face when he called the police because he isn’t a “real American” and would be ignored. When police finally arrived, they spoke to the perpetrators first. Later, Castillo’s family was attacked with box cutters and knives. He asked Mayor Pugh if she would commit to work with the immigrant community to help them feel safe to call the police and request help.
BUILD successfully gained recognition from the mayor, recognized her in return, and received the public commitments we sought. By organizing the power to get to the table, BUILD won the agreement that had been developed by our issue action teams.
At the assembly, Mayor Pugh publicly committed to the following:
- Fully implementing BUILD’s policing recommendations, including an increase in foot patrols within 30 days
- Implementing the Baltimore City parish ID system
- Championing the full funding of Kirwan Commission recommendations
- Working with the Baltimore City Schools CEO to rally principals, teachers, parents, students, etc. in support of Kirwan funding
- Maintaining current levels of funding for existing community school and out-of-school programs for remainder of Mayor Pugh’s tenure
- Making the 30% local hiring and 20% affordable housing mandate (Port Covington precedent) a flagship policy of the city so that all developers coming to Baltimore are required meet these minimum standards