Had a day free last Saturday (10/8/11) and I wanted to go to Occupy Baltimore (OB) to be a citizen journalist, hence this diary entry. Spent the time holding signs at intersections, sitting at workshop discussions, providing some agenda items, and talking to others there.
Thanks to everyone who I interviewed and for supporting OB. And sorry for shaky camera and some quiet audio.
Took this picture while biking down to OB. "Believe" is one of our city mottos, typically tied into an effort to improve the city. Most of our city's development has been around the downtown and Inner Harbor area, while neighborhoods are neglected. During our recent Democratic Mayoral Primary, challangers to Mayor Rawlings-Blake often questioned why corporations were given tax breaks for building high rises downtown while blighted homes remained. During the debates, Sen. Pugh repeatedly brought up that neighborhoods were struggling for development while corporations wouldn't build or relocate to the Inner Harbor unless they got a tax break.
1st Mariner Arena, the oldest arena on the East Coast
I also passed by the 1st Mariner Arena which is very out of date. At 50 years old, it is one of, if not the, oldest arena still in use in an American city. There are plans to build a new one and combine it with the planned renovation of our convention center, but the Great Recession and business's demand of ultra low taxes, the build date keeps being pushed back while projected costs somehow keep going up.
BofA overlooking Occupy Baltimore
Interestingly, Bank of America has an office building across the intersection of McKeldin Square, where OB is stationed.
Finally arrived to McKeldin Square. People were sprawled over the plaza making signs, waving signs at passing cars, having workshops, making meals, and writing to elected officials. I donated some requested items at the food and medical tables and took a tour of the place.
Dedicated to former Mayor and Gov McKeldin
I found it interesting that OB chose McKeldin Square. Former Baltimore Mayor and Maryland Governor McKeldin oversaw a lot of development in and around the city. As governor, McKeldin sought to improve the state highway system, namely by establishing the Baltimore Beltway (I-695), the Capital Beltway (I-495), and the John Hanson Highway (US 50 between Washington, DC and Annapolis). He was a staunch supporter of interstate cooperation, saying once: "I rode by train over several state borders. I carried no passports. No one asked me to identify myself. No one had the right to. This is America." In 1963, he was elected again as mayor of Baltimore, focusing on the urban renewal of the Baltimore Inner Harbor. He was later followed by William Donald Schaefer who continued the efforts which led to a world class Inner Harbor and great tourists attractions.
Main sign waving area for Occupy Baltimore
This intersection sees a lot of traffic even on the weekend. I'm holding the "Regulate Banks" sign. Out of all the passing vehicles, the ones most likely to honk in support were those on the job: postal workers, city crews, waste management, firetrucks, and paramedics. While I was waving signs, a Teach-for-America teacher joined us with the sign below.
Took the opportunity to chat with her and ask about her struggles in the Baltimore classroom.
My partner and some friends are teachers in the city have the same experiences as well.
After about 30-45 minutes waving signs, I went around a bit gathering more interviews, asking people why they were here to Occupy Baltimore.
People could set-up workshops on various topics from constitutional conventions, how to handle police, religious outreach, and yoga. Below was what was on tap that Saturday.
My partner was quite upset to have missed out on the Rocky Horror Sing-a-long. He played the narrator at the Newark, DE showings back in the day.
At about noon, Death showed up.
Had to ask for his two cents.
Something a bit more cheerful was over by the food table.