Week In Review: Hogan repeats Fox45 propaganda, RIP Bailey Reeves, GTTF-related cases dropped, and more

-A joint investigation by NPR and the University of Maryland’s Howard Center for Investigative Journalism found that heat can have deadly consequences in the parts of the city where poor people of color live. “Across Baltimore, the hottest areas tend to be the poorest and that pattern is not unusual. In dozens of major U.S. cities, low-income neighborhoods are more likely to be hotter than their wealthier counterparts,” wrote journalists Meg Anderson and Sean McMinn. Researchers found that when it’s hotter, there are more 911 calls for health issues like asthma attacks and high blood pressure, and those aren’t always documented as heat-related illnesses. It shows that life is deadlier for people who are poor and of color in more ways than one. On a related note, Baltimore City Schools without air conditioning closed two hours early last Wednesday. School officials told WBAL-TV that they are still working on constructing new schools as part of the city’s 21st Century Schools Initiative.

-Late last month, Tyrone Banks was shot and killed by police. One police officer and one bystander were shot as well. We still do not know if Banks fired any shots—police say he had a gun and that he was involved in a shooting the day before he was killed—and we still don’t know how many shots were fired by police but 13 officers who discharged their weapons were, as per policy, put on administrative leave pending an investigation.

-The new school year has begun, which also means it is time for Sinclair-owned local channel Fox45 to spout more misinformation about public schools in Baltimore and the way they are funded, and that means Governor Larry Hogan is going to gladly repeat that misinformation despite there being just about no way by now he doesn’t know that what he is repeating is at best, cherry-picked info and at worst, straight-up lies. Check out Jaisal Noor’s interview with Jess Garner for the Real News Network about information on the reality behind school funding in Baltimore.

-Since the March 1, 2017 indictment of seven Baltimore police officers who were members of the Gun Trace Task Force, there has been plenty of back and forth between the State’s Attorney’s Office and defense attorneys representing people arrested by GTTF. On and off cases have been dismissed, with lawyers—especially the Office of the Public Defender—saying there are way more. The SAO has argued that some of these cases should not be overturned. Plenty of lawyers have said—rightly, we think—that you have to dismiss every case involving dirty cops who stole from people, lied on police reports, falsely arrested people, and in some cases planted guns. Anyways, the SAO has announced they are dropping nearly 800 cases involving GTTF officers which is encouraging news even if many believe that is still just a start.

Private donors have put up 17 million dollars to fund the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins Medicine, the most significant center of its kind in the whole world. For those who don’t know, Hopkins has been an important place for research on psychedelic for decades, back in the sixties before research of this sort became illegal and in recent years as psychedelic research has started up again (in 2000, Hopkins became the first to get regulatory approval to begin research again). Primarily, Hopkins has focused on psilocybin (shrooms, basically) for issues such as smoking cessation—and it has been massively successful for those who have gone through the treatment. Funding this kind of research is great news and has the potential to change the world. 

-We’re learning a little more about the death of Bailey Reeves, a 17-year-old trans teen who was shot and killed on Labor Day. In all two people were killed and five others injured in Labor Day shootings. Reeves was remembered this past Friday at a candlelight vigil held at the Ynot Lot. According to Out Magazine, at least 17 trans people have been killed this year and most of those were trans women of color.

-The headline on this Baltimore Sun story pretty much says it all: Baltimore hasn’t kept track of millions in grant money. (Again). Apparently, city agencies are pretty good at finding grant money. What they aren’t great at, according to a new audit, is accounting for those dollars. The city receives nearly $448 million in grants, or about 16 percent of its $2.8 billion budget, wrote Luke Broadwater. And, Broadwater reports, this problem has been going on for years! In a city entrenched in such serious and complex problems (see, um, everything else in this Week in Review), keeping track of money should be an easy fix.

-The Baltimore Police Department says it doesn’t have the tools needed to properly track sexual assault cases, according to their Annual Sexual Assault Investigations Data Report, which they must submit to be compliant with a federal consent decree. “The report notes that the department continues to struggle with ‘paper based reporting, data system silos, antiquated data systems,’” according to the Sun. This part is especially troubling: “Because of its paper-based reporting, the department is unable to determine how many victims identify as transgender, queer or nonbinary.” Last time we checked, the BPD is one of the most well-funded agencies in the city. Where, then, is that money going?