Friday, July 20, 2018

'My Lawyer!' A legendary Baltimore public defender retires


  I have known Lou Curran since I arrived in Baltimore.  In 1990, I was convicted for protesting the first Iraq War.  Seven of us were arrested when we climbed on top of a roof at Baltimore’s National Guard armory and poured blood, oil and sand on a sign indicating Gov. Donald Schaefer was the commander of Maryland’s National Guard. I refused to pay a $500 fine, and instead sent the money to the American Friends Service Committee Persian Gulf Relief Fund.  Initially, Judge Edward Angeletti put me on probation.  However, on February 14, 1991, I was to appear before Angeletti for a probation hearing. The courtroom was packed, and I was standing with Lou in the doorway.

  Some poor soul appeared before the judge, and was given an outrageous sentence for involvement in the drug trade.  As the marshals were preparing to take this gentleman to jail, he bolted and ran towards the door.  Lou reached out to grab the runner but only ended up with his jacket.  Immediately afterwards, Angeletti pointed at me to appear before him.  Since I had not paid the fine to the court, he sentenced me to six months in jail with a $2,500 fine.  Those same marshals then escorted me to jail as I did not run away.


'My Lawyer!' A legendary Baltimore public defender retires

Public defender Lou Curran retires this month. (Handout)

Todd Oppenheim
Most lawyer awards are fluff. They are generally handed out by bar associations, civic groups and the like to insiders and connected folks. The awards too often recognize average practitioners rather than pioneers. This year's Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney Association's Fred Bennett Award for zealous advocacy, handed out in June, was an exception. The winner was Louis Brendan Curran, my colleague. Lou, who retires this month, is a deserving recipient. He's a legend, a firebrand who left his mark on Baltimore.
Lou's legal career has been devoted to public service. He has worked in the Maryland Public Defender's Office for the past 30 years. Since 1995, Lou has labored in the Baltimore City Felony Trial Division, where I now work. In our unit, we handle criminal cases for indigent clients that range in nature from drug offenses all the way up to murder. It takes fortitude and dedication to make it 30 years here. Anyone who's practiced criminal law in Baltimore in the 2000s knows Lou and his iconic ways.
As defense lawyers, we are also investigators. We visit crime scenes (sometimes with private detectives) to delve into certain cases. Lou was known to do his own “middle of the night investigations” all over town to get a truer feeling of places and events. Safety was only a minor concern to Lou, who, despite being a small Irish American, has always been savvy enough to avoid sticky situations.
Pretrial release programs critical to eliminating cash bail
Speaking of crime scene visits, Lou did one last summer that garnered national attention. Perhaps you saw the controversial body worn camera video that went viral in which a Baltimore cop claimed to “reenact” his discovery of a drug stash. Well, that was Lou's case. He uncovered the cop's mishap and quickly ran out to the scene to better understand the area. After our litigation team was alerted, Lou's client's case was soon dropped. The cop now faces criminal charges of evidence tampering. Lou never really took any credit for the work.
Catching Lou in action in court was a sight to behold. Never to be accused of being a man of high fashion, you'd be lucky to see Lou in a full suit. Usually, a blazer and khakis comprised his uniform. It didn't matter though. Lou knew his cases like no one else because of his preparation; his arguments and gregarious personality were at the core of his representation.
Whether he was grilling a witness on the stand or addressing a judge, he was fearless and creative. At times, you didn't know whether to laugh or gawk in awe at the sheer passion that Lou poured into his orations. When defendants enter guilty pleas, a series of questions has to be answered to assure that they are pleading knowingly and voluntarily. Most Baltimore judges pawn this task off to defense attorneys or more pointedly, a public defender, if one is present. To say that Lou gave a detailed and thorough rendition of this “advisement” is an understatement. We're talking Gettysburg Address proportions. Lou's lack of brevity was so well known that we'd all volunteer for the task to preempt him. To his credit, Lou never abbreviated his shtick.
Baltimore's Mandatory minimum madness
Lou was forever testing the limits of the justice system, knowing how oppressive it can be to our clients. He'd visit his incarcerated clients at all hours of the night. Not surprisingly, Lou would get stuck waiting for corrections officers on his visits, since they weren't exactly expecting to have to work on their red eye shifts. Lou would document the access restrictions he faced in nearly weekly emails to the entire office. At one point, due to to some “disagreement,” Lou was banned from a local jail. Even to me, who's run for judge and consistently rocked the system's boat, getting banned from a jail was pretty impressive.
Lou was a character. “My lawyer!” he'd call out in passing to any attorney he respected. He often biked to work. He wore a large ushanka hat in the winter. He posted social justice news clippings around the office elevator and the men's urinal for perusing. Besides his day work, Lou has been an advocate for local criminal defense groups, AIDS research and environmental issues, and he has consistently raised money to support animal welfare organizations. The Orioles even owe Lou a debt of gratitude. Every year, he organized a handful of fundraiser outings to ballgames to support his charities of choice. In fact, Lou once predicted that by 2020 the Orioles would win the series and marijuana would be legalized. Let's just say that he's not wrong yet.
Lou's compassion for his clients, who loved him, is what truly made him special. He described it best at his retirement party. His goal in representing someone was to make that case the client's last in the criminal justice system — to solve that matter, but also put them on a path to success. Lou noted that he's come to realize the near impossibility of that task due to systemic racism, an unequal justice system, and a lack of jobs and infrastructure in our clients' neighborhoods. The odds are stacked high. With each new client, though, comes a chance to try again. That's what kept him going. We all have to keep trying, just like Lou did throughout his career.
Todd Oppenheim is an attorney in the Baltimore City Public Defender's Office. Twitter: @Opp4Justice; email:
Body camera footage shows officer planting drugs, public defender says
The public defender's office says this police body camera footage from a January drug arrest shows an officer placing a bag of drugs in a trash strewn lot. The officer can then be seen walking to the street, where he flips on his body camera, returns to the lot and picks up a soup can containing a bag of drugs. 
Police cameras have a feature that saves 30 seconds of video prior to activation, but without audio. When the officer is first in the alley, there is no audio until 30 seconds later. 

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Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"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

Baltimore Activist Alert - July 20 - August 9, 2018

53] Living Earth Festival – July 20 - 22
54] Food Rescue July 20
55] Support Migrant's Rights – July 20
56] Black Lives Matter – July 20
57] Taking Action For Animals Conference 2018 – July 20
58] Black and Palestinian Solidarity – July 20
59] Ballroom Dancing – July 20
60] Zero Hour – July 21
61] Books and Breakfast -- July 21
62] Woman Suffrage Walking Tour – July 21
63] Vegan Fest – July 21
64] Veterans Benefits Workshop – July 21
65] Days of Democracy – July 21
66] Chester County Peace Vigil – July 21
67] Baltimore City/County Revolutionaries meeting – July 21
68] Commemorate Hiroshima – Aug. 6
69] Commemorate Nagasaki Aug. 9
70 ] Do you want to join a peace caravan?
71] Emergency Demonstration against an attack on Iran or North Korea  
73] Donate books, videos, DVDs and records  
74] Do you need any book shelves?
75] Do you need a shredder?
76] Join the Global Zero campaign
77] Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil
53] – The Living Earth Festival, hosted by the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian starting at 10:30 AM each day from Fri., July 20 through Sun., July 22 at 4th St. and Independence Ave. SW, WDC 20013.  This year’s Living Earth Festival brings attention to cultural sustainability and food sovereignty. There's a panel on tribal tourism, and how it is used to educate visitors and provide a source of economic development. Meet young Indigenous farmers from Hawaii, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. For full information about Living Earth Festival events, visit  Go to

54] -- On Fri., July 20 at noon, there is a food rescue at Grace Baptist Church, 3201 The Alameda, Baltimore 21218.  The food rescue will continue on July 27 and August 3.  Bring a bag, bring a friend, and take delicious, nutritious, free rescued food. Visit

55] – Join a Demonstration to Support Migrant's Rights on Fri., July 20 from 4 to 7 PM at Gorman Road overpass (over I-95) in Howard County.  It is sponsored by the IndivisibleHoCoMD Immigration Action Team.  Go to  Parking at that location on Gorman Road is probably best within 200 yards of the east side of the bridge in the residential area. 

WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN?  The Trump Administration is failing to meet the deadline to reunite all children under age 5.  There are a total of 3,000 children in custody that must be returned by the end of July. The Indivisible Howard County Immigration Team will be holding the Gorman Bridge Overpass of Route 95 Demonstrations every Friday in July from 4 to 7 PM until all children are returned.  Please come and help us keep the pressure on the Trump administration to reunite the children that the US government took from their families.  Call 410-599-4412 or email

56] – There is usually a silent vigil on Fridays, from 5 to 6 PM, sponsored by Homewood Friends Meeting, outside the Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St.  The next scheduled vigil is on July 20. Black Lives Matter.   

57] – On Fri., July 20 at 6 PM through Mon., July 23 at 4 PM, participate in the Taking Action For Animals Conference 2018, hosted by The Humane Society of the United States at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City at National Airport, 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA 22202.  Get tickets at

Taking Action for Animals (TAFA) brings together HSUS volunteers and advocates from across the country for a shared goal: to better the lives of animals and people alike. Participants gain a better understanding of the many issues animals face in our society and learn how to take action in their communities through lobbying, education and other citizen advocacy.  Go to

58] -- On Fri., July 20 from 6:30 to 7:30 PM, be a part of Palestine and Us: Black and Palestinian Solidarity, hosted by The Jerusalem Fund & Palestine Center, 2425 Virginia Ave. NW, WDC 20037.  Get tickets at  The 2018 Summer Intern Lecture Series will kick off with Guest Speaker Ahmad Abuznaid. He is the Director of the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) and co-founder of the non-profit organization Dream Defenders. He will discuss the intersectionality between Black and Palestinian solidarity movements as well as look at the current frameworks for Palestinian movements.  A light snack will be served at 6 PM.  See

59] – There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month, in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at 8 PM.  Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St.  Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be on July 20. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725.
60] – This is Zero Hour for the climate. Young people are growing up in a world already shaken by the impacts of climate change — from year-round wildfires to Category 6 hurricanes to deadly heat waves year after year. These young people may also be the last generation who can do anything to stop the worst of this crisis.  That’s why, on Sat., July 21, a movement led by high schoolers of color will march in D.C. to demand our elected officials take bold action to protect young people and our futures — before it's too late.  Go to

  Support young people as they march for immediate, common sense climate change legislation! This youth-led movement called Zero Hour highlights the voices of young people on the front lines of the climate crisis. The Greater Baltimore Sierra Club is organizing students to attend the march in DC via buses, MARC train, and/or carpool. Gather at 8 AM. Time is tentative.  Contact Maeve Secor at or 443.886.8813.  In partnership with Baltimore Beyond Plastic, the Greater Baltimore Group of the Maryland Sierra Club Chapter will be organizing students from the Baltimore area to attend the Zero Hour Youth Movement march in DC on July 21 via MARC train. You will be contacted with final plans.  The MARC train costs $16 round trip ($8 each way).  Bring water bottle, lunch/money for lunch, and a poster/sign. Lunch will be provided to those who need it.

61] – On Sat., July 21 at 10 AM, join up with Books and Breakfast 2018, hosted by Oak Hill Center for Education and Culture, 2239 Kirk Ave., Baltimore 21218-6204.  Books and Breakfast is a monthly opportunity for community members to come together to partake in a tasty breakfast, activities and discussion around a critical issue or theme impacting Baltimore city, and get a free book selected by the Oak Hill Team. All are welcome, as this is an all-ages program.

Each month will have a different theme. We will discuss the issues that affect our communities from healthcare and housing, to mass incarceration and education. We will learn about struggles of the past and how we can develop the tools to fight injustice today. The next Books and Breakfast will happen on Sept. 15. 

Books and Breakfast is a program that is for, with, and by community members. Volunteers are needed to help coordinate food, outreach, donations, and programming/activities team. Perhaps your schedule is tight, but you can show up once a month and help--there is a space for you too.  Email, call 443-977-3531, or just go straight to   Visit

62] – On Sat., July 21 at 10 AM, join In Their Footsteps: Woman Suffrage Walking Tour, hosted by the National Women's History Museum at the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, 1st St. NW, WDC 20004.  Get tickets at Follow the route of the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession through DC and gain an understanding of the suffragist struggle for equality and the right to vote. The woman suffrage movement is recognized as officially starting in 1848, at the Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention in New York. Over the next 72 years, generations of activist women (and men) worked tirelessly until the 19th Amendment was adopted. It took the efforts of a wide range of women, from the most radical advocates of male and female equality, to women who saw the right to vote as necessary to more effectively advocate for moral and social reform. Their efforts to succeed set the stage for grassroots efforts to come, proving that determined citizens can achieve change. It will recur each Saturday through Sept. 28. 

The tour begins at the Capitol Reflecting Pool by the Ulysses S Grant Memorial. The nearest metro is Federal Center SW (Blue/Orange/Silver line). The tour will cover about 1.5 miles, last about 2 hours, and end in Lafayette Square across from the White House. Meet your tour guide on the steps of the Ulysses S Grant Memorial by the Capitol Reflecting Pool. See

63] On Sat., July 21 from 10 AM to 6 PM, get over to the Vegan Fest at the Corner, hosted by Great Sage, 5809 Clarksville Square Dr., Clarksville 21029.  Besides the food, the cooking exhibitions and other enjoyments, there will be music.  If you are interested in participating in this year's festival, email for more details. Go to

64] -- There is a Veterans Benefits Workshop hosted by Rep. John Sarbanes on Sat., July 21 from 11 AM to 2 PM at the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department, 5200 Southwestern Boulevard, Arbutus 21227.  Call (410) 832-8890.  RSVP at Learn more about the new VA Rapid Appeals Modernization Program and how it can help you receive a speedy decision.  The VA Baltimore Regional Office will also be on site to provide personalized assistance with your claims.

65] – On Sat., July 21 from 11 AM to 5 PM, get over to the Days of Democracy #4, hosted by the Baltimore Housing Roundtable, 2640 St. Paul St., Baltimore 21218-4531. This Summer, residents citywide have participated in Days of Democracy- joining together to demonstrate that the need for affordable housing & development without displacement is so urgent that we are not going to leave it up to anyone else to make it happen! At the first Days of Democracy, residents gathered 1,000 signatures in 4 hours. At the second Days of Democracy, the first effort was doubled. On Primary Day, Days of Democracy #3 brought in another 2,100 signatures from the Voters! Now, with over 12,600 signatures gathered, help to make the 4th Days of Democracy the biggest one yet!  Get supplies and training, and then go out in teams to gather petition signatures & discuss the #FundTheTrust act with neighbors! Please dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes. Coffee, water and snacks will be provided.  Check out

66] – Each Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, Chester County Peace Movement holds a peace vigil in West Chester in front of the Chester County Courthouse, High & Market Sts. Go to Email

67] – On Sat., July 21 from noon to 2 PM, Baltimore City/County Revolutionaries, join a fun potluck celebration and bring your favorite lunch dish at the Waverly Library, 400 E 33rd St., Baltimore 21218.  Many of the successful candidates will be in attendance, so come meet the next wave of Maryland public servants.  RSVP at

As part of the monthly general membership meeting, strategize on the next actions as a local organization, and hear from local activists on how to coordinate to help keep immigrants safe in the time of Trump Concentration Camps! At1:30 PM, hear from Luis Larin from CASA who will discuss Immigration issues and how to get involved.

68] –  The 34th annual Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration begins on Mon.,  Aug. 6 from 5 to 6 PM. Gather at 33rd and North Charles Streets in Baltimore, near Johns Hopkins University to speak out against JHU’s weapons contracts, including those of a nuclear nature, and the killer drone research.  Afterwards, gather at Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 North Charles St., for a potluck dinner.  After dinner, Jay Levy will   speak about Takoma Park becoming a Nuclear Free Zone and its current work on divestment.  Also some members of Preventing Nuclear War Maryland will discuss the Back From the Brink campaign, aimed at lessening the chances of a nuclear war.  Finally, there would be a performance by Baltimore Guitarists Against Violence.  Contact at Max at mobuszewski2001 at Comcast dot net or 410-323-1607.

69] – The 34th annual Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration continues on Thurs., Aug. 9 from 5:30 to 6:30 PM, as we gather outside Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 North Charles Street, for an anti-nuke demonstration.  Then we will go inside for the program.  Paul Magno will speak about ways of supporting the Kings Bay Plowshares.  Also that evening, some members of Preventing Nuclear War Maryland will discuss the Back From the Brink campaign. Again there would be a performance by Baltimore Guitarists Against Violence.  We would close the evening with a late dinner at a Japanese restaurant at 33rd & N. Charles Sts. Contact at Max at mobuszewski2001 at Comcast dot net or 410-323-1607.

70] – Do you have any interest in challenging the Trump administration for reneging on the Iran Deal? If yes, would you be interested in joining a Peace Caravan to the Iranian embassy in Washington, D.C.? Contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski2001 at Comcast dot net.  

71] – It is a violation of U.S. law for us to attack a country that has not attacked us, as only Congress can declare war. The Trump administration is nevertheless beating the war drums for war against Iran and North Korea. The Mueller investigation is tightening the vise, and could cause Trump to attack those countries in order to divert attention from Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Such a military strike would demand an immediate and unequivocal response from us to show that we will not tolerate his abuse of power.

Let's mobilize to show that we the people will not tolerate another military adventure, which would be bound to have profound negative consequences. If a preemptive military strike against Iran or North Korea takes place, then meet outside the War Memorial, 101 N. Gay St., Baltimore, MD 21202. If the attack is before 2 PM local time, then events will begin at 5 PM, local time. If the attack occurs after 2 PM local time, then events will begin at noon, local time, the following day. Contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski2001 at Comcast dot net.


After 44 years of resisting weapons and war, Jonah House is Baltimore is in danger of shutting down. Two of the three core members have announced their intention to leave the community as of May 2018. That leaves one core member, Joe Byrne, who will remain to recruit and re-form intentional community. But if no one steps forward, Jonah House will have to close.   Jonah House was founded by Phil Berrigan, Liz McAlister, and others, in 1973, during the Vietnam War. It was a center of resistance to that war. When the war ended, the focus of resistance became the nuclear arms race. This resistance blossomed into the Plowshares movement. Jonah House members have spent years in jail for Plowshares disarmament actions. Other members have spent years supporting them, and doing the work of the community in their absence. Resistance to weapons and war continues at Jonah House. More recently, Jonah House has also become involved in racial justice efforts in Baltimore, and the environmental justice movement.

  Jonah House is planted in the middle of a 22-acre, mostly-wooded cemetery in West Baltimore called St. Peter’s. Maintaining and slowly restoring St. Peter’s Cemetery is the work that pays the bills for the community. Jonah House also uses the property to serve the living as well as honor the dead. Our gardens and orchards feed the Jonah House community, and the surrounding neighborhood community, via a food pantry and weekly food distribution to low-income neighbors. We envision the cemetery—particularly the 11-acre forest patch—as a haven for the people of the neighborhood, international peace activists, and numberless living beings.

Jonah House is also an interfaith spiritual community. We pray or meditate together daily, and our spiritual practice informs and empowers everything we do, whether in the fields or in the streets. To continue the vision, Jonah House is looking for a few new core members willing to commit to a two-year stint. We are also open to short- and long-term interns (3 months to a year). The work of radical peacemaking, direct service to the poor, and stewarding the land requires workers. We pray that God will send laborers to the vineyard (yes, we have that too) and that Jonah House will continue to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable for another 44 years!  For more information, call 443-804-3410, or email us at

73] -- If you would like to get rid of books, videos, DVDs, records, tarps and table cloths, contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski2001 at

74] -- Can you use any book shelves? Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski2001 at

75] – Do you need a shredder?  Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski2001 at

76] -- Join an extraordinary global campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons: A growing group of leaders around the world is calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons and a majority of the global public agrees.  This is an historic window of opportunity.  With momentum already building in favor of Zero, a major show of support from people around the world could tip the balance. When it comes to nuclear weapons, one is one too many.

77] – A Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil takes place every day in Lafayette Park, 1601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 24 hours a day, since June 3, 1981. Go to; call 202-682-4282.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

“One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better" - Daniel Berrigan

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Baltimore Activist Alert - July 19 - 21, 2018

For sale a button calling Donald Trump Bully -- $2.
For sale BOY GENIUS, a book about Karl Rove, written by Lou Dubose, Jan Reid and Carl M. Cannon -- $2.

45] Quality of Life Committee – July 19
46] "The Case for a Maximum Wage" – July 19
47] Issue Campaigns at a Local Level – July 19
48] How Feminism Changed Women's Psychology July 19
49] Civilian Review Board meeting -- July 19
50] Help out with the Youth Climate March -- July 20 - 21
51] WIB peace vigils – July 20
52] White House vigil – July 20
45] – On Thurs., July 19 from 6 to 8 PM, get involved with the Quality of Life Committee, hosted by Communities United, 2221 Maryland Ave., 2nd floor, Baltimore 21218.  Tickets are at  Join the community - made up of returned citizens (ex-felons), users, ex-users, and the people who love them - to address issues that affect our lives daily. The goal is to combine the resources of returning citizens and those in recovery, so they can make a difference for themselves, families, and communities.  Tackle the barriers that affect us together! See

46] – On  Thurs., July 19 at 6:30 PM, Sam Pizzigati will discuss his new book, "The Case for a Maximum Wage." at the Busboys & Poets, 14th and V Sts.  NW, WDC Baltimore Ave.  Could capping top incomes tackle our rising inequality more effectively than conventional approaches to narrowing our vast economic divides? Progressive Cheverly members have had the opportunity to hear Sam discuss some of his previous books, including "Greed and Good Understanding the Inequality that Limits our Lives." See

47] -- On Thurs., July 19 from 7 to 8:30 PM, get involved with Issue Campaigns at a Local Level, hosted by Take Action AAC at the Edgewater Community Library.  Do you have something you would like to see change at a local level? Have you ever wondered how to make that happen? Join Take Action Anne Arundel County to learn more about how to “cut an issue” and plan a campaign to make change happen locally. With recent events, the county has been affected by immigration policy and gun violence. If you care about these issues, join in to plan how we can act locally. By joining together, we can make a difference. Check out

48] – On Thurs., July 19 from 7 to 9 PM, hear about How Feminism Changed Women's Psychology, hosted by Village Learning Place, 2521 Saint Paul St., Baltimore 21218. Dr. Jessica Heriot, Ph.D, will be reading an excerpt from her groundbreaking book, “Riding the Second Wave: How Feminism Changed Women's Psychology and Mine.” This work details the psychological impact of the women’s liberation, starting with the author’s own discovery of the movement in 1969. A Q&A-style discussion and book signing will follow. Dr. Heriot will have books for sale at the event! Visit

49] – On Thurs., July 19 from 7 to 10 PM, attend the Civilian Review Board Meeting at 7 E Redwood St., Baltimore 21202-1103. The Civilian Review Board holds a monthly meeting. See

50] – On Fri., July 20, in preparation for the Youth Climate March on Sat., July 21, there will be an art build around the D.C. area to celebrate the movement and earth through art. In any movement, it is important to have community building, because community is the best antidote to hopelessness. Through these art builds we are building our community and beautiful banners and signs for The Youth Climate March. Kallan Benson, local climate change teen activist, has a Parachutes for the Planet project which will be the central art installation for the Zero Hour events. On July 20 & 21 as a plea for broad, global action to protect our climate, Parachutes for the Planet will display over 100 round banners, hand-painted by youth from every permanently-settled continent of the globe.  She needs people each morning to unload and spread out parachutes, throughout the day to make sure none are lost or damaged, and to pack up at the end of each day. If you know of anyone who would like to help for any block of time on July 20 or 21, contact Kallan at

51] – On Fri., July 20 from noon to 1 PM, join a Women in Black peace vigil. A vigil will take place in McKeldin Square at the corner of Light and Pratt Sts.  STAY FOR LUNCH at Baba's Kitchen.  Warm-up, dry off, and enjoy a vegetarian chili lunch and lots of good conversation. Bring a side or topping for the chili.  There are still places at the table; invite a friend to come along with you.

  Another vigil is at Roland Park Place, 830 W. 40th St, Baltimore. 21211. However, if weather is iffy, contact Anne at  Lunch will take place at 1 PM at the RPP CafĂ©, 830 W. 40th St., Baltimore 21211.

  A third vigil will be in Chestertown, Kent County at Memorial Park at Cross Street and Park Row.  This vigil is looking for more peace bodies on the Eastern Shore.  Welcome to the network, Chestertown Women in Black.

Wear black. Dress for who knows what kind of weather.  Peace signs will be available. When there are others to stand with, you don't need to carry the burden alone. Do this to be in solidarity with others....when everything around us says “Be afraid of the stranger.” Carpool and parking available. Just send an email that you need a ride to:

52] – On Fri.,  July 20 from noon to 1 PM, join the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in a vigil urging the powers that be to abolish war and torture, to disarm all weapons, to end indefinite detention, to close Guantanamo, to establish justice for all and help create the Beloved Community! This vigil will take place at the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Contract Art @ or at 202-360-6416. 

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"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

Stateless and Poor, Some Boys in Thai Cave Had Already Beaten Long Odds

Stateless and Poor, Some Boys in Thai Cave Had Already Beaten Long Odds
Classmates of Adul Sam-on, one of the boys trapped in Tham Luang Cave, visited a tribute for the Wild Boars soccer team on Monday. Credit Lauren Decicca/Getty Images

·         July 10, 2018
·         MAE SAI, Thailand — Adul Sam-on, 14, has never been a stranger to peril.

   At age 6, Adul had already escaped a territory in Myanmar known for guerrilla warfare, opium cultivation and methamphetamine trafficking. His parents slipped him into Thailand, in the hopes that proper schooling would provide him with a better life than that of his illiterate, impoverished family.

    But his greatest escape came on Tuesday, when he and 11 other members of a youth soccer team, along with their coach, were all finally freed from the Tham Luang Cave in northern Thailand, after an ordeal stretching more than two weeks.

   For 10 days, Adul and his fellow Wild Boars soccer squad survived deep in the cave complex as their food, flashlights and drinking water diminished. By the time British divers found them on July 2, the Wild Boars and their coach looked skeletal.

   It was Adul, the stateless descendant of a Wa ethnic tribal branch once known for headhunting, who played a critical role in the rescue, acting as interpreter for the British divers.


A video grab shows some of the members of a soccer team, with Adul Sam-on on the right, in a section of Tham Luang Cave. Credit Thai Navy Seals

   Proficient in English, Thai, Burmese, Mandarin and Wa, Adul politely communicated to the British divers his squad’s greatest needs: food and clarity on just how long they had stayed alive.

   When a teammate piped up in broken English, “eat, eat, eat,” Adul said he had already covered that point. In images released by the Thai Navy SEAL force, he had a huge grin on his gaunt face.

   On Tuesday, the border town of Mae Sai, where Adul lived at a church, finally had cause to celebrate, as the Wild Boars’ 18-day ordeal came to an end. In a three-day rescue mission, Adul and 12 others were safely extracted from the cave by a team of dozens of divers, doctors and support staff.

   The extraordinary rescue of the youth soccer squad has been a rare cause for cheer in a nation that has endured four years of military governance and a growing rural-urban divide.

  Mae Sai, where the Wild Boars play soccer, seems an unlikely place for a resurgence in Thai pride. Located not far from where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet in the Golden Triangle, Mae Sai is home to a population that has at times been skeptical of the Thai state and its institutions.

Military personnel prepared to go into the Tham Luang cave complex last week. Credit Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

   The Golden Triangle is a smuggling center, and a sanctuary for members of various ethnic militias that have spent decades pushing for autonomy from a government in Myanmar that routinely represses them.

   Three of the trapped soccer players, as well as their coach, Ekkapol Chantawong, are stateless ethnic minorities, accustomed to slipping across the border to Myanmar one day and returning for a soccer game in Thailand the next.

   Their presence undercuts a Thai sense of nationhood that is girded by a triumvirate of institutions: the military, the monarchy and the Buddhist monastery.

   After years of reputational decline because of an army coup in 2014 — one of a dozen successful putsches since the country abolished an absolute monarchy in 1932 — Thailand’s military has been handed an opportunity to burnish its image.

   Thai Navy SEAL divers became the faces of the rescue operation. And a retired Thai SEAL diver, Saman Gunan, 38, died during the effort to bring air tanks into the cave to aid in the rescue. On Monday evening, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha of Thailand, the nation’s junta chief, made his second visit to the cave site.

  “The military will score some points here,” said Rangsiman Rome, a student leader who has called for a restoration to democracy in Thailand, even as the military has repeatedly delayed elections and extended its rule. “They get the credit in this mission.”

    Thailand’s monarchy has also been buoyed by the outpouring of support for the 13 members of the trapped team.

   King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, who ascended to the throne in 2016, has engaged with the public more intensely during the caving crisis than at any time during his brief reign.

   The monarch’s 13-year-old son, Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, wrote a card in German, wishing the rescue mission successaccording to the Royal Household Bureau. Among other donations, the king contributed 2,000 raincoats to the effort.

   With the English he used to communicate with the British divers on July 2, Adul was crucial in ensuring the safety of the Wild Boars. He is the top student in his class at the Ban Wiang Phan School in Mae Sai. His academic record and sporting prowess have earned him free tuition and daily lunch.

Onlookers cheered as a helicopter flew toward the cave on Monday to transport a rescued boy. CreditLauren Decicca/Getty Images

    After crossing into Thailand eight years ago, Adul’s parents dropped him off at a local Baptist church in Mae Sai, asking that the pastor and his wife care for him. A quality education was not available in Myanmar’s self-governing Wa region, where young boys can be in danger of getting dragooned into the local guerrilla force.

   At the Ban Wiang Phan School, where 20 percent of students are stateless and half are ethnic minorities, the principal, Punnawit Thepsurin, said the boy’s uncertain status — he has no citizenship papers from any country — had helped hone his strength. “Stateless children have a fighting spirit that makes them want to excel,” he said. “Adul is the best of the best.”

   At least 440,000 stateless people live in Thailand, many of whom are victims of Myanmar’s long years of ethnic strife, according to the United Nations refugee agency. Human rights groups say the true number could be as high as 3 million — in a nation of nearly 70 million — even though the Thai government has refused to ratify the United Nations convention guaranteeing rights for refugees.

   With little legal protection, undocumented workers in Thailand can be at the mercy of human traffickers or unscrupulous employers. But the Wild Boars provided a haven for stateless and Thai children alike. On weekends, the squad would often go on outdoor excursions in nearby jungles.

    While a sign outside the Tham Luang Cave warns that monsoon downpours can transform internal passageways into powerful rivers within a few hours, the boys had explored its caverns before. A forecast of rain on June 23 did not dissuade the team from its adventure.

Divers testing the mini-submarine built by Elon Musk’s engineers to help rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded Thai cave. The capsule was built with SpaceX parts. In the end, the cave proved too narrow and rescuers said the sub was “not practical.” Credit Elon Musk, via Reuters

“They are at an age when they want to explore and learn new things,” said Nopparat Khanthawong, the team’s head coach, who did not join the fated expedition. “It’s natural for them to go to the cave.”

   Initially, there was some speculation whether Mr. Ekkapol, the 25-year-old coach who took the boys into Tham Luang Cave, might be criminally culpable for overseeing a trip gone wrong. But local officials quickly dismissed such talk.

   The parents of the Wild Boars have written letters supporting Mr. Ekkapol. “Coach Ek,” said Adul’s parents in a note dictated to an intermediary, “thank you for taking care of the boys and for helping them stay safe in the dark.”

    A stateless member of the ethnic Shan minority, Mr. Ekkapol has long experience caring for children. After his parents died in Myanmar when he was a young boy, he entered the Buddhist monkhood in Thailand for nearly a decade, a common option for orphans untethered from financial support.

   One of Mr. Ekkapol’s duties after he was ordained was taking care of younger novices, said Patcharadanai Kittisophano, a monk at the Phrathat Doi Wao temple, where the young coach now works as a custodian.

A billboard reading “Welcome home, boys” in Chiang Rai Province on Monday.  CreditTyrone Siu/Reuters

  Mr. Ekkapol’s years of spiritual training paid off in other ways. “In the cave, he taught the boys how to meditate so they could pass the time without stress,” Mr. Patcharadanai said. “That helped save their lives.”

    While in the cave, Mr. Ekkapol sent out a note with navy divers apologizing to the boys’ parents for having led the team astray.

    “Ek must have been blaming himself,” said Prayuth Jetiyanukarn, the abbot of the Prathat Doi Wao temple, as he celebrated news of the whole team’s extraction from the cave. “He had to be mindful and conquer his doubts so he could be strong for the kids.”

  Mr. Nopparat, the head coach, said that Mr. Ekkapol had even withheld food and water from himself in the cave to provide for the boys.

   “He would rather die than lose a single Wild Boar,” Mr. Nopparat said. “That’s the kind of person he is.”

   As for Adul’s parents, they counseled the only one of their five children lucky enough to study in Thailand to be on his best behavior, even during the most traumatic of times.

   “After you come out of the cave,” they instructed their son in a note, “you have to say thank you to every single officer.”

Muktita Suhartono contributed reporting.

   A version of this article appears in print on July 11, 2018, on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Poor, Stateless and Used to Beating Long Odds.

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