Monday, August 15, 2011

A complaint after being threatened with arrest

Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218 


Frederick H. Bealefeld, III, Commissioner

Baltimore Police Department

242 W. 29th St.

Baltimore, MD 21211-2908


Dear Commissioner Bealefeld:


I am writing to issue a complaint and to seek a remedy. On June 20, 2011, I and other Baltimore residents, members of the Fund Our Communities Task Force, were ejected from the premises of the Hilton Baltimore, 401 W. Pratt St.  We hoped to attend the press conference being held by representatives of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.  However, a security official from the hotel challenged our presence inside the hotel.  We assured him we were there in support of the mayors and did not intend to disrupt the press conference.  However, two Baltimore City police officers then arrived and told us we must leave or be arrested.  This shocking behavior took place inside a publicly-financed hotel.


This excessive misuse of police power was particularly insulting, as I understand that the City of Baltimore has a stake in this hotel.  As a resident of Baltimore, I am seeking an apology and an indication that such an abuse of police power will not happen again. I have never stayed overnight at a Baltimore hotel, but I have been inside many of them for different functions.  To be challenged with arrest for trying to attend a press conference is bewildering.  It is expected that unruly behavior could lead to an arrest, but we were simply waiting for the press conference to commence.   At this time, I am weighing my legal options, but hope some amicable agreement can be reached so that such an indignity does not happen again.


Earlier that day two resolutions, which the Fund Our Communities Task Force supported, were passed.  One called on Congress to Redirect Military Spending to Domestic Priorities and the other, introduced by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan on behalf of Mayors for Peace, called for nuclear disarmament. Both resolutions, if adopted by the federal government, would free billions of dollars to address the needs in our cities. 


The Fund Our Communities Task Force organized several events while the US Conference of Mayors was meeting at the Hilton.  On June 17, 18, 19 and 20 we leafleted outside the Hilton in support of the two resolutions.  On the evening of June 17, we organized a Teach-In calling for the funding of the military to be re-directed to Baltimore and the State of Maryland.  Councilperson James Kraft spoke at the Teach-In held in McKeldin Square.  Another speaker was Jackie Cabasso, representing Mayors For Peace.


I met with a police officer during the Teach-In, and we went over the details of the following day’s march.  He was very pleasant.


On Saturday, June 18 we marched from St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church to an area by the Sports Museum. Again we cooperated with the police who asked us to rally in the area by the museum.  In fact, one of the police officers who guided us to the rally space was one of the officers who threatened me with arrest.


On Sunday, June 19, three of us went to the Clipper Mill as the mayors, their families and staff were there for a social event.  Again I spoke cordially with the commanding officer assigned to provide security during the Conference of Mayors.  I also spoke to several mayors, including those representing Madison, Wisconsin and Santa Fe, New Mexico.  And a photograph was taken of me and Mayor Jean Quan.


We were aware that the votes on the resolutions would take place on Monday, June 20.  So we gathered outside the Hilton and received text messages from a friend inside who was keeping us informed.  Eventually, we were elated to discover that the resolutions we supported passed.  Thus we went inside the Hilton to be at the press conference and participate in a historic event.  The anti-war resolution was the first of its kind since 1972 during the Vietnam War.


However, our elation changed to outrage as we were treated rudely, and illegally denied a chance to witness the historic press conference. We did nothing wrong, committed no crime.  So I am still bewildered by being threatened with arrest by members of the Baltimore City Police.


Now I seek restorative justice, which would include an apology and a response that I will not face arrest again for being inside a publicly-financed Baltimore hotel.  I am prepared to provide any other information as requested, and look forward to your response.  Best wishes.


In peace,


Max Obuszewski


Mobuszewski at


Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

Office of the Mayor, City of Baltimore

100 North Holliday Street, Baltimore, Maryland, 21202


District 1: James B. Kraft

Room 503, City Hall


District 12: Carl Stokes

Room 509, City Hall


David Rocah

Staff attorney

American Civil Liberties Union


Hilton Baltimore

401 West Pratt Street

Baltimore, Maryland 21201


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


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