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October 26, 2011

Unions, including police, ask mayor to "stand down" on Occupy protest

A group of labor leaders, including the head of the city police and fire unions, sent a letter to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake today asking her not to remove Occupy Baltimore protesters but instead continue dialogue.

"Rather than create a confrontation, we believe it would be wise for the city of Baltimore to act with restraint and responsibility," the letter says. "Rather than remove the protesters, we call upon the city to work with representatives of Occupy Baltimore to find a solution that can maintain the protest location and respect the rights of our citizens."

The letter is signed by the heads of the city's major unions - including various AFSCME chapters, the Baltimore Teachers Local 340, Fraternal Order of Police, Fire Fighters Local 734 and Fire Officers Local 964, and the City Union of Baltimore Local 800 - who say they support the purpose of the protest. 

Here's the full letter:

"Dear Mayor Rawlings-Blake: 

We have been made aware of the city of Baltimore's intention to close down the Occupy Baltimore site sometime in the next 24 hours. We write to express our firm opinion that nothing be done to close down the site and that instead, an agreement be arrived at which allows for the continuation of a peaceful, non-violent demonstration.

The Occupy Baltimore protests have given expression to a widely shared belief that our economy and our politics are controlled by corporate interests to the detriment of the overwhelming majority of working people, including our members, their families and communities. We share this opinion and applaud the courage and sacrifice of the Occupy protestors. We believe these protestors should be commended for standing up for the 99% of us, not threatened with removal.

Cities across the country - from San Diego to Little Rock, Philadelphia and Washington DC - have worked with their local Occupy movements to find reasonable accommodations that everyone can live with. Surely, the city of Baltimore can find a solution that meets the concerns of city officials and departments while allowing the protestors to continue their democratic right to peaceful, non-violent protest.

The Occupy Baltimore activists have made a broad call for followers to converge on McKeldin Square in order to defend the occupation tonight. Rather than create a confrontation, we believe it would be wise for the city of Baltimore to act with restraint and responsibility. Rather than remove the protestors, we call upon the city to work with representatives of Occupy Baltimore to find a solution that can maintain the protest location and respect the rights of our citizens.

We look forward to your quick response. 


Ernie Grecco, President, Metro Baltimore Council AFL-CIO
Glen Middleton, Executive Director, AFSCME 67
Anthony Coates, AFSCME Local 647-67
Peggy Peacock, AFSCME Local 2202-67
Ms. Johnnie Phipps, AFSCME Local 558-67
Lorretta Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer, AFT
Mariette English, President, Baltimore Teachers Local 340
Brenda Clayburn, President, City Union of Balto Local 800
Steve Fugate, President, Fire Officers Local 964
Rick Hoffman, President, Fire Fighters Local 734
Jimmy Gittings, President, Public School Administrations and Supervisors Association Local 25
Rod Easter, President, Balto Building Trades Council
Bob Cherry, President, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3

Posted by Justin Fenton at 5:06 PM | | Comments (13)


This is how it should be done! So proud of the people of Baltimore. Shame the violent thugs of Oakland didn't think before they acted and as a result they critically injured a young Iraq Veteran.

I hope that many will refuse to participate if the mayor refuses to learn from the mistakes of her Oakland peer!

Mayor Rawlings-Blake is trying to get this done quick, to head-off a groundswell of public anger that may take a few days to develop.

There are obviously powerful interests that feel threatened by these protests.

I'm shocked and saddened that the Mayor feels the need to appease these interests. Now it's becoming clear who's side she's on - and it aint ours!

If she succeeds in forcefully closing down this expression of free speech, I predict it will rise up even stronger - and angrier.

This is the best thing I've read all day.

I wonder if the mayor got any letters of support for the "occupation" from small business owners in the vicinity of this mess.

And they said that the Unions were useless tools corrupted by corporate greed. You rock Mr. Grecco!
"The People United Will Never be Defeated."

This is the real movement. The Occupy group does not represent me, and I'm definitely part of the 99%.

I wish they would listen to the rest of us that want the trash cleaned up. We used to visit the Inner Harbor at least once a week (usually for dinner). So far the occupation has cost the owners of the restaurants in the area around 100$ per week. I'm sure I am not alone in this. We no longer take clients there. We no longer take friends there. We are ashamed of what was once the tourist jewel of our city.


I applaud those on the 53% site for stepping up, getting things done, and not complaining about it. The majority of this country is working incredibly hard to get by.

I'm not advocating you shouldn't work hard. I'm saying that you should not work as hard as you do to be where you are. Some of the folks on the 53% site are working 3 jobs and just getting by. They don't have healthcare. One sick kid could ruin them.

I don't want that for you. If you are working 3 jobs, if you are working 80 hour, 90 hour weeks, I want you to be rich. I want you to not worry paycheck to paycheck. You deserve that. You deserve better.

You are the 99%, but you should really be the upper 20-30%, once that 1% expands like it should.

What you should be ASHAMED of is the POVERTY surrounding your JEWEL...... How, Sad you can't get to your steak dinner .... Look a few streets over they can't afford to eat there!!!

Thank you for this article. I am excited by the way that public employees, like police and firefighters, are finding their voice in this conflict . I'm one of those folks who tends to assume that they are just tools to be used by powerful interests. It is important for me to hear that the police are not personally interested in hurting people, and public health officials want their force to be used as a last resort. The reasonable and respectful request to use negotiation (and other forms of civilized engagement) with citizens involved in a protest is a new view on public servants for me, and renews my hope for democracy and my country.

This is awesome for Baltimore!

Please help fight for Occupy Oakland as well!
Sign this petition for Scott Olsen an Iraq War Veteran for Peace who was brutally attacked by Oakland Police on October 25, 2011

Dear Citizens of Maryland,

The "Robin Hood" mentality is something. Rob from the rich so I can get it without having to work for it.

Dear Occupy Baltimore protests - have you seen the salaries of the folks signing this letter. Let's see them distribute their wealth.

Where was Occupy Baltimore and other protesters when the Democratic Party was in charge of both houses of Congress during the first two years of the current administration - NOTHING.

Protest in DC. Protest infront of the White House.

The Prepsident, Senate and Hourse are your real problem not people who have been smart enough to make it big.

Just because you don't have the smarts to get rich doesn't mean it should be given to you.

You want to start a revolution - start with the PEACEFUL (that's right I said peaceful) and (that's right I especially said) CONSTITUTIONAL over through of this government.

Lawlessness will gain you nothing only by following the law can you make a difference.

Think about it Citizens.

Concerned Citizen, WAKE UP! You have been blinded by the lies that you have been fed.

You are a part of the 99%. Those of us like myself that work hard for a living, pay our taxes and understand that we are just one illness away from being on public assistance and broke get what this movement is about. The Rolutionary war was faught because the settlers of this country were being taxed to death by the king and by the India Tea Company that collected all of the taxes from small businesses and didn't allow the masses of the the Colonies to make a living and get ahead. That is happening again in this country. It happened during the roaring 20s and caused the Great Depression. It happened during the 2000s and caused the Great Recession. It's still happening as the rules haven't changed. Until they change this Movement is the ONLY way that we are going to have our voices heard. The 1% have bought many of the politicians and several of the Supreme Court Justices. It's time for the masses to have their voices heard. The fact that you have your head in the sand you can't see the truth is only an example of how the Main Stream Media has failed this country because they are owned by the Major Corporations that also own our Politicians. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! It's past time to take to the streets and make change happen! It will happen whether you like it or not, Change is happening.

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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.

Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.

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