Turner Sta­tion res­i­dents take to streets to de­mand change

Pro­tes­tors de­mand eq­ui­table jus­tice sys­tem, po­lice re­form

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By MIKE URS­ERY

A na­tion­wide move­ment was wit­nessed at a lo­cal level this past week­end, as res­i­dents of Turner Sta­tion and Dun­dalk marched for equal­ity and an end to po­lice bru­tal­ity.

The Black Lives Mat­ter peace­ful protest and rally was or­ga­nized by lo­cal pas­tors, com­mu­nity lead­ers and Turner Sta­tion res­i­dents to give a voice to those who are dis­en­fran­chised, ac­cord­ing to Rev. Kay Al­bury, pas­tor of St. Matthew’s Church in Turner Sta­tion.

“I’ve been a pas­tor in this com­mu­nity for seven years,” Al­bury said. “I’ve be­come some­what de­spon­dent in terms of some of the equity; hous­ing, jobs and the grow­ing home­less groups of peo­ple. It breaks my heart.

“There are dis­en­fran­chised peo­ple among us, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. We can make a dif­fer­ence.”

Al­bury said one change she wants to see is a hous­ing so­lu­tion for the home­less pop­u­la­tion in Dun­dalk. She has wit­nessed peo­ple sleep­ing in their ve­hi­cles on church property she said, adding that there have been in­stances of peo­ple break­ing into church build­ings be­cause they had nowhere to go.

“That hur ts,” she said. Pro­test­ers gath­ered at Turner Sta­tion Park for a short rally be­fore be­gin­ning the march. Speak­ers ad­dressed the crowd that was spread out around a pavil­ion be­fore they made the long walk from the park to Dun­dalk’s his­toric down­town district. Crys­tal Fran­cis, who is the District 6 rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Bal­ti­more County Demo­cratic Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, said the marchers were there to bring aware­ness to the need to change struc­tural racism and in­still a jus­tice sys­tem that serves the needs of ever yone.

“We’re out here be­cause we want to go from protest to pol­icy,” Fran­cis said, re­fer­ring to po­lice re­form leg­is­la­tion re­cently in­tro­duced by Bal­ti­more County Coun­cil­man Ju­lian Jones, D-4.

“We want those pieces of leg­is­la­tion to pass, be­cause we know that when we have pol­icy, we can get the re­sources that we need to en­sure that our po­lice of­fi­cers can not only do their job, but re­ally do it in an eq­ui­table way.”.

Fran­cis said that as many as 10 peo­ple, who she called “friends of south­east Bal­ti­more County,” were in­volved in or­ga­niz­ing the protest.

“They’re just com­mu­nity lead­ers and pas­tors that live in the district that care about the is­sues,” Fran­cis said. “We want peo­ple to know that we’re go­ing to con­tinue to march un­til we see pol­icy.”

Ale­jan­dra Ivanovich, who was once the trea­surer for the Hen­ri­etta Lacks Legacy Group, re­turned to Turner Sta­tion to join her fel­low com­mu­nity mem­bers.

“I’m here be­cause, as a Latino woman and as a com­mu­nity ad­vo­cate, I be­lieve in sup­port­ing each other,” Ivanovich said. “I be­lieve in jus­tice, and re­ally, this countr y needs change.”

“What’s hap­pen­ing as far as po­lice bru­tal­ity to­wards our African-Amer­i­can broth­ers and sis­ters is not right, and we need change. I felt that by me show­ing up, maybe I could make a dif­fer­ence, and show oth­ers that all you have to do is show up.”

As many as 75 peo­ple joined the march. Wear­ing masks and prac­tic­ing so­cial dis­tanc­ing, the demon­stra­tors started on Avon­dale Road in Turner Sta­tion, mak­ing their way to Main Street. From Main Street they took to Dun­dalk Av­enue, head­ing north to­wards down­town.

Those 75 pro­test­ers took a risk dur­ing a pan­demic, as­sem­bling a large gath­er­ing, to de­mand change. Fran­cis said it was im­por­tant be­cause it lets peo­ple know that the com­mu­nity is “sick and tired.”

“When peo­ple are sick and tired of be­ing sick and tired, they get up and do some­thing about it,” Fran­cis said. “When you look back at the Civil Rights era, African-Amer­i­cans were go­ing through so many changes. You can see now how it has shifted. We have peo­ple out here that are His­panic and [white], and peo­ple are just tired, and they want their voices to be heard.”

“They will­ing to do what­ever it is that they can, to even risk com­ing out dur­ing a pan­demic, to enure that our lead­ers who have the ca­pac­ity to pass these poli­cies do the right thing.”

As they marched, they chanted “No jus­tice, no peace” and “I can’t breathe.” They marched along a pre­planned route and were joined by Jones and Ol­szewski. Ol­szewski’s of­fice did not re­spond to our re­quest for a com­ment on why he at­tended the protest be­fore this news­pa­per went to press.

Jones said it is com­fort­ing to him to see so many peo­ple stand up and de­mand change. “To be quite frank, some­times I don’t think there’s enough par­tic­i­pa­tion by cit­i­zens in what’s go­ing on in their gov­ern­ment,” he said.

“It’s com­fort­ing to see these peo­ple in this com­mu­nity here in Dun­dalk de­mand change, and I’ve been see­ing this take place through­out Bal­ti­more County.”

Jones’s bill, which is ex­pected to be voted on by the Bal­ti­more County Coun­cil on Aug. 3, calls for a cer­tain level of re­quired train­ing for ev­ery po­lice of­fi­cer each year, per­tain­ing to de-es­ca­la­tion tech­niques, im­plicit bias train­ing and other things of that na­ture, he said. If the bill were to be­come law, it would de­fine when a po­lice of­fi­cer should use force, and would also re­form hir­ing pro­ce­dures. An ex­am­ple of this is if a po­lice of­fi­cer who was rep­ri­manded by their pre­vi­ous agency could not be hired by BCPD, Jones said.

Demon­strat­ing is just one way that pro­test­ers are putting their mes­sage out, Fran­cis said. Peo­ple are tak­ing to so­cial me­dia, shar­ing memes and post­ing sup­port­ive mes­sages. Me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tions are us­ing so­cial me­dia to ed­u­cate peo­ple about their cause, she said.

“You see the body cam footage of the in­jus­tices hap­pen­ing cir­cu­lat­ing, and I think that is what trig­gered it,” Fran­cis said. “When you hear about it, it’s one thing. When you see it, how can you not say some­thing. How can you not stand up against it.”

Fran­cis said those who are in­ter­ested in learn­ing about fu­ture events, or who want to learn more about the cause, can visit the Friends of South­east Bal­ti­more County page on Face­book™. Al­bury said she wants to make it clear that ev­ery­thing or­ga­nized by the Friends of South­east Bal­ti­more County is peace­ful, and that they are not in­ter­ested in de­stroy­ing property or loot­ing.

Al­bury said it was a good feel­ing to see peo­ple of dif­fer­ent back­grounds for a com­mon cause, which in­cluded peo­ple be­long­ing to younger gen­er­a­tions.

“That’s hope­ful, be­cause that’s the way it needs to go,” she said.

PHO­TOS BY MIKE URS­ERY

Pic­tured here, mem­bers of the Friends of South­east Bal­ti­more County, a group of com­mu­nity lead­ers and pas­tors who or­ga­nized the Black Lives Mat­ter protest rally in Dun­dalk on July 12.

Black Lives Mat­ter demon­stra­tors march down Avon­dale Road dur­ing a protest on July 12. The march be­gan at Turner Sta­tion Park and ended at Dun­dalk’s his­toric down­town district.

PHOTO BY MIKE URS­ERY

Pro­tes­tors march along Main Street dur­ing the Black Lives Mat­ter protest rally on July 12.

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