“This team needs to get off the stage and into our communities,” one citizen says, interrupting the first public meeting on Tuesday Nov. 28 with the five-member team appointed to monitor the Consent Decree enacted by the Department of Justice following their scathing report on the Baltimore Police Department. “We don’t understand how you can make an assessment and write a report unless you’re out in the streets talking to people in real time.”
The woman’s sentiment was echoed by almost everyone in the audience at Frederick Douglass High School on Tuesday night.
“You’ve got to be on the scene in real time…if you have to roll up out of bed in work-out gear. Then come. We’ll be there,” said Lawrence Brown, a professor of Public Health at Morgan State University. Brown said that the team should be on the ground, with Facebook and Twitter so that when an incident arises, citizens can log-in, insteading of suiting up and going out.
“What happened with Harlem Park?” Brown asked. “If you’re an arm of the court you should be on the ground monitoring in real time.”
The police lockdown of the Harlem Park neighborhood where Det. Sean Suiter was murdered dominated the conversation.
“We are asking for legal protection from our police department,” a 21-year teaching veteran said, adding that the monitoring team needs to act before another community is “held hostage.”
Only one member of the monitoring team, Shantay Guy of the Baltimore Community Mediation Center, actually did go to the Harlem Park neighborhood while it was under police occupation—but citizens insisted that they wanted the lawyers on the team, like Kenneth Thompson, the head Monitor, to be there.
“We the people want to hear from the professional about how we the people can deal with the police,” one woman said. “I didn’t go to law school. They did.”