Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Press Advisory: For Immediate Release
For media queries, please contact the Schools Not Jails Media Team: (410)
849-9626 | schoolsnotjails@gmail.com

Organizers of today's Schools Not Jails Occupation kickoff rally and action
say that they have no plans to cancel the program of events planned to take
place at the proposed site of the juvenile detention center in East
Baltimore this week, despite arrests and an aggressive police presence
earlier today. Tuesday's program of events begins with breakfast at the
site at 8AM, and ends with a 6PM dinner and a teach-in on Youth and the
Prison Industrial Complex with Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle at 7PM. All
are invited to attend.
The Schools Not Jails Occupation, in collaboration with Occupy Baltimore
and the Baltimore Algebra Project, is a five-day action designed to call
into question the budgeting priorities of the State of Maryland and the
City of Baltimore by highlighting the unnecessary allocation of $100
million in state funds for the construction of a 180-bed youth detention
facility--an amount that would cover the annual budget shortfall that
threatens to close or privatize the Baltimore City Recreation Centers for
333 years.
Earlier on January 16, after a boisterous rally at the corner of Fallsway
and Madison, in front of Central Booking, over 150 people marched to 600 E.
Monument, where six organizers entered the enclosure and proceeded to erect
a large wooden schoolhouse on the proposed site of the youth jail, and a
Baltimore City high school teacher gave a lesson on Frederick Douglass.
Earlier in the day, Wendell France, Commissioner of Pretrial Detention &
Services at the Maryland Department of Public Safety, had told organizers
that they would not be allowed onto the site of the proposed youth jail,
stating safety concerns, but said that the State of Maryland's jurisdiction
ended there, and stated that he had no problem with protestors on the
sidewalk outside of the site's chain-link boundary. Baltimore City Police,
however, did seem to have a problem with the Occupation's use of the
sidewalk, and brought dozens of police officers in full riot gear to create
a barrier between activists and their military tent, erected on the
sidewalk to provide shelter for those planning to remain at the site
through the night. Police forced members of the press to leave the site,
and then tore down the tent, which was taken away in a city sanitation
truck. State Police then proceeded to tear down the schoolhouse that had
been constructed inside the chain-link fence around the youth jail site.
Organizers say that, despite the six arrests and the loss of the tent, the
first day of the action achieved their ultimate goal: calling attention to
the planned construction of the youth jail, and demonstrating to the city
and state governments that the residents of Baltimore City have different
priorities for public spending and want to have a say in how public funds
are dispersed. Organizers plan to spend the week discussing alternatives to
the problems in Baltimore that the jail is intended to address, and bring
proposals to the mayor's participatory budget hearing at Cylburn Arboretum
on January 21.
Video of the day's events, as well as images, may be found at the Schools
Not Jails website shortly: http://schoolsnotjails.wordpress.com | For
specific photo requests, especially from the period when press were blocked
from the site, please email schoolsnotjails@gmail.com.
For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact the
Schools Not Jails Media Team: (410) 849-9626 | schoolsnotjails@gmail.com  


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