Feedback

Activists arrested at City Hall refuse plea deal

witherspoon and black

Cortly “C.D.” Witherspoon and Sharon Black address supporters outside District Court.

Photo by: Fern Shen

Sharon Black and Rev. Cortly “C.D.” Witherspoon – the two activists arrested at Baltimore City Hall during an Aug. 6 protest about jobs, police brutality and recreation center closings – declined a plea deal today and were given an Oct. 4 court date.

Appearing in District Court along with their attorney, J. Wyndal Gordon, Black and Witherspoon were offered the chance to be sentenced to community service in return for pleading guilty to trespassing charges. They’re now scheduled to be tried in District Court at 700 E. Patapsco Avenue.

“We are not going to accept that. It’s a matter of principle,” Witherspoon said. “City Hall is the people’s house.”

Witherspoon, who heads the Baltimore chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Black, of the local All People’s Congress, had been arrested after they had participated in picketing by about 75 people outside City Hall.

The two had entered City Hall planning, they said today, to deliver a letter to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and schedule a meeting with her.

“We were told we had to do that online,” Witherspoon said. “We had tried to do that. And we had called. That website is very user-unfriendly. A lot of people in this city don’t have computers. Some don’t have electricity. That should not be the only way people in this city contact the Mayor. When we want to meet with the Council President, we don’t have to go online to do it.”

City police have said the two were arrested because they refused to leave after City Hall “closes to the public at 6 p.m.”

“We were performing community service that day,” Witherspoon observed, outside the courtroom.

Issue of Police Brutality

Before Black and Witherspoon entered the courthouse on E. North Ave., about 20 of their supporters held a demonstration on the sidewalk, carrying signs that said “Jobs and Recreation Centers, Now!” and “Stop Police Terror.”

Allied via the coalition group “Baltimore People’s Assembly,” the two have been leading efforts to call attention to police-involved shootings and alleged police brutality in Baltimore.

Demonstratpors protested outside District Court in Baltimore about police brutality and the arrest of Sharon Black and Cortly Witherspoon. (Photo by Fern Shen)

Demonstratpors protested outside District Court in Baltimore about police brutality and the arrest of Sharon Black and Cortly Witherspoon. (Photo by Fern Shen)

They have been citing cases such as that of David Yim, a disabled man shot by police in April, and Thomas Threatt, whose beating during an east Baltimore jobs protest in March was captured on video.

(All the charges against Threatt – resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and failure to obey a police officer – were dropped earlier this week.)

Yim, who had apparently been unarmed when a police officer shot him through the passenger side window of his car, is disabled.

On Saturday, a 63-year-old homeless veteran, was shot and killed by police on West Lexington.

Police have said Rudolph Bell had attacked the officer with a knife or bottle. Critics say the latest incident underscores a serious problem of police misconduct, especially in regards to the mentally ill.

Black said it seems as though “that’s the answer for any kind of mental illness – killing people and beating them up.”

Be sure to check our full comment policy before leaving a comment.

  • Power to the People

    That plea deal was ridiculous, and what CD said was right. They were doing community service, and they should be commended, not persecuted.  

    Also, for some disability etiquette, we are not “the mentally ill,” Most of us prefer to be called “people with mental illness,” because it emphasizes that we are people first and foremost, and not solely defined by our disabilities.

  • Kay C. Adler

         Ms. Shen is to be commended for her well-written article covering this morning’s court appearance of Rev. Cortly  “C.D.” Witherspoon and Ms. Sharon Black .
         It is unconscionable that a sitting judge would offer Rev. Witherspoon and Ms. Black a plea bargain that included a ” chance to be sentenced to community service” as if indeed, their vigorous activism against “Police Brutality” and the call for “Jobs and Recreational Centers isn’t enough. Is this not community service?
         Cerebral people will recognize this glaring fact to be accurate and true.  K.C. Adler

  • Skypie6

    I enter City Hall’s door often and I have never seen any postings that City Hall is only open to the public until 6pm.

  • Baltimorecountyactiongroup

    See also the the report on ireport.cnn.com titled “police impersonator/county code inspector arrested again.” This problem (police misconduct) extends into the county. Rampant acts of crony-ism abound. Shielding of county employees from the full force of the law has been accentuated by the Office of the States Attorney recently refusing to bring murder charges against the county police officer who strangled a county youth, Christopher Brown. Police should be held to a higher accountability for their actions due to specialized training and position of authority. New standards of conduct need to be put in place.”To serve and protect” has become meaningless. Join Baltimore County Action Group in their efforts to advocate for the establishment of a citizen review board for police (and a separate one for zoning) here in the county. Give victims of civil rights violations a voice. 

  • BIGLOVELY

    THIS STORY IS A FOLLOW UP OF GATE KEEPERS PPL WHO REPRESENTS OUR MAYOR.MY EFFORTS TO MEET OUR MAYOR WILL CONTINUE WITH THE HOPES OF SUCCESS FOR THE INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES,AND OUR HOMELESS,AND OUR SENIORS,AND OUR MENTALL ILL POPULATION.BCUZ HER GATE KEEPERS LIKE THE POLICE AND OTHER INDIVIDUALS ACT OUT OF THERE OWN RUDE AND DISRUPT MANOR SOME THE MAYOR HAVE NO KNOWLEDGE OF BCUZ SOME THINGS SHE INTRUST HER PROFESSIONAL STAFF ONE CITY HALL EMPLOYEE TOLD ME BUT AS AN EMPLOYER OF FIFTEEN ALL DO NOT HAVE HER BEST INTEREST IN MIND WHEN APPROACHING AND DEALING WITH PUBLIC..

More of the Daily Drip »

Below the Fold

  • March 24, 2014

    • Last Thursday, I sent an email to the Mayor’s Office of Communications asking for some basic responsiveness: Please return our emailed queries and phone calls about stories. Please send us the same routine emails you send to other members of the media. Lately, more so than usual, they haven’t been. It’s a shame because, even [...]

Twitter

Facebook