Occupy Baltimore awaits city action; revises sexual assault guidelines
A day after the city declared the Occupy Baltimore movement an illegal encampment, protesters are awaiting the next move from authorities. But it appears the police aren't moving in just yet.
The Sun's Luke Broadwater reports that at last night’s meeting of what the group calls their General Assembly, protesters said city officials had indicated to them that a representative from the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks would attend tonight’s 8 p.m. meeting. City officials did not immediately confirm that information, but had tentatively set today as a deadline for the protesters to come to an agreement with City Hall.
In the photo above by The Sun's Karl Merton Ferron, college student Brandie Cross holds a flag raised in distress, whose stars are instead symbols of large corporations.
Police and city officials have been circumspect about telegraphing their next move, perhaps to avoid a confrontation similar to what has occurred in other cities, most recently Oakland, where police moved in with tear gas, or to keep the element of surprise. What does seem clear is that the city is gearing up for some action to evict what they've determined has morphed from a protest to a campground.
Also today, after having distributed pamphlets that advocates and police said discouraged victims of sexual assault from going to authorities, the Occupy Baltimore has revised its guidelines.
The new pamphlet now lists services available to victims. Gone is controversial language that said the protesters would rather handle complaints amongst themselves, and that while they wouldn't prevent someone from going to police, they would prefer not to involve law enforcement.
The memo now reads, in part:
Instances of sexual abuse and assault will be handled according to the expressed desires of the victim. The Security and Medical teams are equipped with a list of resources, including contact information for the police, hospitals, sexual assault hotlines, and women's shelters. In these instances, #Occupy Baltimore welcomes the involvement of the Baltimore City Police and encourages victims to report crimes.
The complete memo on sexual assault is below:
OCCUPY BALTIMORE RELEASES OFFICIAL SEXUAL OFFENSE POLICY
Occupy Baltimore has released an official statement detailing their attitude and procedure for dealing with sexual assault. This comes in response to false allegations by several media sources that a previous, official policy had discouraged police involvement in such instances.
The document in question was written, and distributed in leaflet form, by a now-replaced security team. It was never approved by the General Assembly or endorsed by Occupy Baltimore.
Occupy Baltimore is not in the habit of codifying our policy in written form. A zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment, abuse, and assault – as well as other forms of violence and intimidation – has existed and been enforced since the movement’s inception.
The full text of the new policy, which was approved by the General Assembly on Tuesday, October 25, is printed below:
Occupy Baltimore Sexual Offense Policy
Since its inception, Occupy Baltimore has maintained a zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment, abuse, and assault. We maintain that creating a safe space for all people is paramount to our goal of building community. We actively oppose sexual violence in all its personal, cultural, and systemic forms.
Victims can alert the Security Team using the all-purpose call, "Round-up!" to ensure immediate physical protection and subsequent enforcement of our policy.
Sexual harassment is defined as any unwanted commentary or physical contact. It is the victim's prerogative to classify any action as sexual harassment, and to decide whether or not the harasser be ejected from Occupy Baltimore. If the victim chooses to enforce the ejection policy, the harasser will be ordered not to return until the Safer Spaces Committee in conjunction with the Mediator’s Committee has reviewed the incident on the following day.
Instances of sexual abuse and assault will be handled according to the expressed desires of the victim. The Security and Medical teams are equipped with a list of resources, including contact information for the police, hospitals, sexual assault hotlines, and women's shelters. In these instances, #Occupy Baltimore welcomes the involvement of the Baltimore City Police and encourages victims to report crimes. We also recognize that the U.S. Justice System is flawed, especially when it comes to cases of sexual assault. If for any reason the victim feels uncomfortable with police involvement, their wishes will be respected.
Anyone reporting sexual assault, with or without police involvement, will have the support of the Occupy Baltimore community. This includes but is not limited to medical assistance, transportation, protection, investigation, mediation and conflict resolution, and emotional support and counseling.
Baltimore City Police
- Emergency: 911
- Central District Precinct: 410-396-2411
- Sexual Assault Response Hotline, 9am-7pm: 443-279-0379
- Local Office: 410-837-7000
Baltimore City Health Dept.
- Emergency Medical Care Team: 410-545-3229
Mercy Medical Center (Sexual Assault Center and Emergency Services)
Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
- Main: 410-550-0100
- Emergency : 410-550-0350
Sinai Hospital of Baltimore (24-hour crisis intervention)
- Main: 410-578-5678
- Emergency: 410-578-5000
University of Maryland Medical Center
- Emergency Room: 410-328-6722
- Pediatric Emergency: 410-328-6335, 410-328-6677
- Child Sexual Abuse: 410-328-5289
- Adolescent Clinic (Rape Team): 410-328-8336
RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network):
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673)
- Online Hotline: www.online.rainn.org
House of Ruth (Emergency Shelter for Battered Women and Children)
- 24-hour Hotline: 410-889-7884
- Legal Services: 410-554-8463, 410-889-7790, 410-889-7791
Child Protective Services
- Adults: 410-361-5000
- Children: 410-361-2235