12.19.2006

NAACP Leaving Baltimore

Who can really blame them? To be honest, they are only moving their headquarters to Washington DC, but when you look at recent news, Baltimore and Maryland certainly seem hostile to the goals the NAACP wishes to achieve.

Though Maryland elected Democrats statewide, they did so while subtly snubbing the NAACP and the Black community. Ben Cardin famously skipped the NAACP debate vs Mike Steele (please see UPDATE at the bottom of the post). All reasons aside, Kweisi Mfume's Senate run was largely ignored by the Democratic Machine.

Then today, first I see that Governor-elect O'Malley, despite his personal opposition to the death penalty, as well as his knowledge of the University of Maryland Study which indicts the MD death penalty as racist, will still continue to carry out the death penalty in Maryland as long as the courts approve of lethal injection.

That opinion is completely unacceptable. No Democrat should be able to read the Maryland Study and conclude that the death penalty should be allowed to continue in Maryland. I could care less what the court thinks about lethal injection. The death penalty is madness, no matter the method. Parris Glendenning, for all his faults, understood this clearly when he instituted the moratorium. O'Malley must restore this moratorium on the death penalty.

Governor-Elect O'Malley, perhaps Sheila Dixon as well, need to do something to restore some sense of trust in our justice system, particularly in Baltimore City.

The NAACP, perhaps in their final Baltimore hurrah, have alleged that the Baltimore City police have been engaging in illegal arrests. This is what you get when you adopt the draconian policing policies that made Rudy Guliani famous.
Baltimore lawyers said in court documents that that arrests for "quality of life" crimes are not illegal; that City State's Attorney decision not to prosecute some crimes does not mean those arrests were unlawful; and that using a performance evaluation system for police officers based on the number of arrests is not unlawful.
Does anyone else really believe that every loitering and littering arrest was justified? How about every strip search? I think the NAACP most likely has a solid case. When people are judged by quantity not quality, quality obviously suffers. The evaluation system is one of the most troubling things in the suit. Police are being encouraged to make as many arrests as possible, and innocent people are being unreasonable arrested as a result.

I think it will be important to ask who was pushing these officers to get the high numbers. At what level did the order come from? I have a feeling our Governor-elect getting out of Baltimore just in time. Lets see if this case pulls him back into the quagmire of Baltimore crime and punishment.

So I cannot say I am surprised that the NAACP has begun finalizing plans to move to Washington DC in 2007. I am amazed they haven't left already. And yet:
NAACP Chairman Julian Bond has said the organization wanted to move its headquarters to be closer to Congress, government agencies and the many news media outlets in Washington. He said the NAACP loved everything about Baltimore, except its location.
Chairman Bond, speaking diplomatically, to say the least.

UPDATE: Stephanie Dray has correctly pointed out that it was really Mike Steele who intentionally skipped the statewide NAACP debate, and Ben Cardin who only skipped a smaller NAACP sponsored debate due to scheduling conflicts. Senator-elect Cardin had planned on debating Steele in the statewide debate, which Mr. Steele intentionally bowed out of. Thanks Steph. Sorry for the error.

Furthermore, I have no clue why the NAACP has decided to leave Baltimore. I was only making the point that they have every reason to. Though I respect his opinion, I do not agree with The League that the NAACP is abandoning the city. I do agree that Baltimore is losing a part of what made it special.

3 comments:

howie said...

Let's not take this too personally. This is like any business which relocates. They do so because the new location helps them function more efficiently.

Certainly, it is to the NAACP's advantage to be closer to the national seat of power. That the seat is now in the hands of people who need votes the NAACP might be able to deliver is an unexpected bonus.

O'Malley's position on the death penalty has nothing to do with this long planned move. Neither does the slighting of Mfume's candidacy.

Considering the terms on which Mfume left the organization, they might have thought less of us had we backed him.

Stephanie Dray said...

Hmmm.

I can't go with you on this rodeo.

First, because you incorrectly cited that Cardin skipped "the" NAACP debate, which we both know is not true. It was Steele who skipped "the" statewide NAACP debate. Cardin skipped one of the county debates, so that he could attend an event in very African American PG County.

Second, because I do not oppose the death penalty in all instances.

Third, because I'm not sure that these are the reasons the NAACP is moving. Have they said so?

Andrew Kujan said...

The NAACP said nothing of their for leaving beyond the fact that DC is closer to the seat of power (as howie pointed out). I am not trying to say that the NAACP is actually leaving for the reasons I listed. I was just making the point that you can't really blame them for leaving Baltimore in any case.

And you are correct about the Ben Cardin thing, which somehow slipped my mind. I will update with a correction.