Activist Kim Trueheart arrested at City Hall

As Trueheart is arrested today, charges were dropped yesterday against two activists arrested at City Hall in August

trueheart arrest

Police officers ejecting activist Kim Trueheart from City Hall today before arresting her for disorderly conduct.

Photo by: Mike McGuire

Longtime citizen activist Kim Trueheart was arrested today at Baltimore City Hall and charged with disorderly conduct, a Baltimore city police spokesman confirmed.

A frequent critic of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake who often confronts the mayor and top city officials online and in person – the 55-year-old retired career Navy officer  Trueheart was taken to Central Booking, according to a police spokesman. [Trueheart retired from the Naval Reserve, not the regular Navy, and as a Chief Petty Officer, which is a senior enlisted, not an officer, rank.]

According to an eyewitness who snapped pictures of the arrest, Trueheart was attempting at about 8:30 a.m. to enter City Hall, where the weekly meeting of the Board of Estimates was about to get underway.

Two officers blocked her in the front lobby, said activist Mike McGuire, who was also heading into the building to attend the board’s meeting.

Trueheart said by phone today (1/24/13) that she had, in the end, been trying to exit the building when she was physically blocked at the door by the security officers.

“She was saying, ‘I do not know what law I have broken. I have not been advised what law I am breaking,'” McGuire said, speaking by phone. McGuire said he saw the officers handcuff Trueheart.

Trueheart told The Brew last week that she had been banned from City Hall, but had not been told what law she had broken, or a means of appealing the decision to impose the ban.

City police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Trueheart had been disorderly at the Jan. 16 Board of Estimates meeting.

He said today’s incident began when Trueheart tried to enter the building. “They were patient with her and at some point she got disorderly again, and they asked her to leave and she wouldn’t and so she was arrested.”

Guglielmi said he did not know about the ban and was seeking more information about it. But in a conversation with The Brew last week, Trueheart said she had been barred from the building on Jan. 16th.

Confronted by Security Officer

Trueheart said last week’s incident took place not at the Board of Estimates room upstairs but in the City Hall Rotunda afterwards, where the mayor had been announcing details of the Martin Luther King Day parade.

Invited by the mayor’s press aide to ask general questions, reporters were asking about the issue of upgrading the city phone system when, according to Trueheart,  the police officer assigned to the mayor’s security, Charmaine M. Thomas started shoving her.

“Why are you pushing me? Stop pushing me!” Trueheart recalled saying in response.

Trueheart, who says she filmed the whole exchange, said it was at that point she asked her own question of the Mayor on the subject of the phone system controversy:   “Why are you wasting $400,000 a month?”

Trueheart said she was then told she was banned from City Hall and, in subsequent conversation with the police lieutenant in charge of city government building security, she was told this was a one-month ban.

Trueheart said she was told by Lt. Robert Morris that she was barred from entering City Hall until Feb. 15, at which time he would decide whether to lift the ban.

Asked why, in general, a non-violent citizen would be arrested at City Hall, Guglielmi responded this way:

“The police department has an obligation to protect City Hall, to protect the officials and people who work there and to protect the citizens from the community who come there,” he said. “They have an obligation to, in the most extreme circumstances, prevent threats to public safety and also to maintain a level of decorum.”

Other activists have had brushes with City Hall security.

In June 2011, former Senator Theatre owner Tom Kiefaber disrupted a City Council meeting. Guglielmi said Kiefaber was, for a time, banned from City Hall. Kiefaber, in an email to The Brew, said it is incorrect to characterize city policy regarding his entering City Hall after that incident as a “ban.”

Charges Dropped Against Two Other Activists

In a related development, two activists arrested this past summer while trying to deliver a letter to the mayor at City Hall had all the charges against them dropped in District Court yesterday.

Sharon Black, of the Baltimore People’s Assembly, and Rev. Cortly “C.D.” Witherspoon, of the Baltimore chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, had been charged with trespassing.

As part of an Aug. 6 demonstration outside the building, the two had come to talk to Rawlings-Blake about the closure of recreation centers and fire companies, police brutality and other issues. They were escorted from the building in handcuffs and later rejected an offer to plead guilty in return for performing community service.

Yesterday in District Court on Patapsco Avenue, after the state’s presentation of evidence against Black and Witherspoon, the defendants’ motion for acquittal was granted.

“We were there for lawful business like any citizen. They couldn’t prove otherwise,” Black said, by phone today. “We are elated that this was the resolution of the case.”

– Reporter Mark Reutter also contributed to this story

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  • claudlaw

    “They were escorted from the building in handcuffs and later rejected an offer to plead guilty in return for performing community service.”

    This line is sort of rich seeing as they, umm, perform community service for a living.

  • Flint Arthur

    Free Kim!

  • discer

    While her enthusiasm is admirable and her cause just you simply can’t continually get up in peoples faces and not expect a reaction. Long term problem is that now you are labeled a trouble maker and your credibility is diminished.

    • Paul Harrell

      I have some sympathy to that point of view, but I would like to hear more about what actually happened. A month-long ban from your right to be at city hall is a major thing. If it’s happening simply because someone is raising inconvenient points, then that is a major assault on our liberties.

      • RodneyCBurris

        I agree with Paul.  A month long ban is serious. My hope is that there is clear and convincing evidence that threats to public to public safety were thwarted, as quoted in the paper. 

    • trueheart4life

      Labeled by who???

      • discer

        By City Hall or course. I do not question your comitmemnt or your cause. However, simply being in the right is not enough. People generally do not respond well to anyone that is too aggresive. This ain’t the military. You can’t be combative  and expect people to be responsive  There is a process to getting things done in a political arena.  Try working within the system. Run for city council. You would be in a much better position to influence change from within rather than from outside the process.  But, mainly be nice. Don’t be the kid that doesn’t play well with others.

        • lutherh

          So after you have been nice, polite, ask the right questions, get no answers and are being abused, then what?  Nice does not always do it.

        • Nick Sheridan

          Discer: Many of those with power do not like to be questioned, and claim that this is not an effective way to make changes.  But those who  are informed troublemakers are often surprisingly successful. The authorites hated the Baltimore Algebra Project who kept on protesting the Youth Jail– but look what happened.  When Martin Luther King was in a Birmingham jail, local pastors wrote to him advising him to moderate his tactics.  You should read his eloquent reply: ‘Letter From a Birmingham Jail’.
          Often people with power will only respond to people who confront and expose them.

        • trueheart4life

          To: Discer: ~ Your blurred vision provides an interesting perspective on my advocacy which you know nothing about, but I do thank you for recognizing that I am right!!! For the record I am NOT too aggressive, militaristic or combative.  Working within the system is one way to effect change, however it is NOT the only way and for you or anyone else to discount the impact of nonconforming individual advocacy is naive and disrespectful to our forefathers.  You DO NOT know me, so keep your ill-formed opinions of me to your self … Please!  See ~ I can be nice and please know that I am no longer a kid!

          • discer

            Oh yea I suppose that was nice, relatively speaking. At least you didn’t tell me I have a simian brain.

          • remington lover

            wow…for someone that gives HERSELF life(and fame) by making sure everyone knows she has the right to opine, and by the first amendment, to express it, Kim sure acts like the “WITHIN”, and tells someone NOT to express, when she doesn’t like the opinion of her. NO opinion is ill-informed. just formed of different perspective.

  • Abigail Fanara

    I went to one meeting with her a couple years ago. They hate when she goes to the meetings because she is usually the only person who tries to keep them in check. She is one of few that will call them out for spending exorbitant amounts of money in a matter of minutes. By the way, the meetings are horrible, the reading material horrendously confusing and boring but Kim read everything and goes consistently, sometimes she is the only one. I am sure there are several things that her protests have stopped from going through that we don’t even know about, but should be grateful for. This city should be enraged by what has happened to one of the few people who continuously keep its leaders in check. She is non-violent, magnificently smart and informed, and she knows her rights. Not to mention her main concern is how the children of the city are being treated and educated. I do not believe for a second that Kim has done anything outside of her rights. I hope that she is safe and gets released as soon as possible so that she can continue her good work. 

    • trueheart4life

      Thanks Abby … I’m home safe!

  • ushanellore

    This tells you something about abuse of authority by authority when authority is consistently challenged.  The word trouble maker is a convenient epithet to excoriate and discredit activists, especially those who question fiscal matters, like budgets, and no bid contracts. 

    This is a sacrifice for Kim Trueheart.  She has a talent for it, she has the sense of justice, she takes her citizen duties seriously, she enjoys telling truth to power, she knows how to stay within the bounds of the law and to be the conscience of her community.  She takes the time and makes the effort to be where prime decisions are made about our dollars and cents.  She sees casual abuse of power, she sees spendthrift ways, she sees favoritism in budget apportionment, she sees the poor and children shortchanged in the on going budget disputes and decisions, she sees powerful developers and friends and neighbors of the powerful benefiting from secret cabals and backroom deals and she answers the corruption with appropriate questions in appropriate venues. 

    Of course she is a thorn in the flesh of the politicians and the police.  Of course it is easy to charge someone such as she with disorderly conduct and disobedience to the law.  These are common accusations hurled at activists through history.  But Kim should have the gratitude of the people for whom she takes such risks.  These are the voiceless ones–the ones who have been marginalized in Baltimore’s unseemly politics–the ones for whom there is no money for after school rec centers, the ones who live on pot holes ridden and crime ridden streets, the ones for whom buses don’t run on time and buses won’t stop, the ones for whom health care is inaccessible or premium. 

    As for Discer saying Kim’s credibility is diminished–yes, indeed that’s what the authorities want.  In the good old USSR they sent activists to mental institutions and to jail to decrease their credibility–to make them appear like people, ill prepared for a sophisticated autocracy, making out these bold consciences to be troubled souls that need meds and rehab. 

    The Discers of the world will fall for that and ask, “Could there not be truth to what these authorities are saying?  Should the authorities not have peace to conduct their important jobs without disruption?”  Sure–the authorities rely on folks like Discer to see their point of view–to see how people like Kim can make their “public (dis)service difficult. 

    The authorities will say, “She makes it impossible for us to do our jobs.  She is a career activist!  We have things to do.  We can’t be answering all her questions.  We have places to go and decisions to make.  She stymies the process.  She doesn’t understand the issues.  She doesn’t see the difficulties of the decision makers.  She is looking for attention!  She is a public nuisance.”  I say to the authorities.  Go join Bashar Assad.  He needs you in his cabinet.   

    The ones that need meds and rahab are the politicos and the police of Baltimore.  SRB is running an autocracy and is using her police and the opaque BDC to intimidate her vocal opponents.  She wants a smooth sail for her lopsided budget decisions and her brutal cost saving measures that usually inflict pain on the poor, the elderly and essential services even as she cozies up to her developer friends and her campaign contributors. 

    She is an ambitious woman with political aspirations in the Democratic Party, beyond the boundaries of Baltimore.  Fulfillment of those aspirations do not come without genuflecting to party bosses and the rich.  First arrest the activists, then ask them to plead guilty in return for release or make them spend money on lawyers to obtain release.  Give them police records.  Build up a case for recurrent disruptive behavior.  Exasperate them.  Exhaust them.  Intimidate them.  And then hope they will go away.  I say, “SRB, think of something new.  Everything you’re doing is old hat.”           

    • Nick Sheridan

      thank you, Ushanellore for a thoughtful statement on what it means to be a citizen activist, and why a Kim Truehart is needed to speak for us citizens,

  • ushanellore

    Discer’s remedy–work within the system!  Of course.  Become a city council member, have your arms twisted to vote with the majority and be a part of the political horse trading or see all your ideas and your votes go up in flames– never enacted,–watch SRB buy off her fellow council members with threats to deprive their constituents if they don’t vote with her in favor of the developers, watch SRB make your own votes come to naught, watch ethics fold up and weep because your fellow council members rather pack it up and go home fast, than talk SRB down.  Watch yourself be called the lone wolf in the wilderness of Baltimore city politics, a dissenter for dissent’s sake not for the constituents. 

    Watch Discer and others say, “If you want to work within the system you’ve got to give a lot to get a little–that is democracy, that is the way of politics.  You can’t take it lump it–you are unfit to be within the system!” 

    Can’t win as an outsider.  Can’t win as an insider.  Much of democracy is a sham.  It is about legalized bribery.  It is about the victory of brawn over brain and Discer is a part of the myth that claims things will change when you work from within. 

    They’ll suck you in pal or they will marginalize you to the minority vote, that will never win. 

    Go on Kim–be a firebrand.  Be an outsider.  We need you. 

  • Barnadine_the_Pirate

    All of us who weren’t present for both episodes have no idea what we’re talking about, and no basis for which to make an opinion about the rightness or wrongness of this.  Could be this was an abuse of power to silence a dissenting voice.  Could be this was an appropriate reaction to repeated disruptive behavior.  The truth is probably somewhere in the middle — an overreaction to someone deliberately pushing the envelope of acceptable behavior.  How much of an overreation and how much pushing is probably unknowable, in any objective, epistemological sense, because it really depends on where you were standing on those days and what the history of the various parties was.

    I wasn’t there. I don’t know. And neither do most of the other people posting here.

    • lutherh

      That is Kim’s whole point.  We need to know what is happening and stop staying in the middle.

  • Gerald Neily

    Ooooh, Bernardine is invoking the “He-pissed’em-off-logical” argument which has been used many times in the history of Baltimore politics. BOLO-gate is only the latest.

  • ushanellore

    What I do know–the Baltimore City Council is known for its corruption.  What I do know–SRB does not brook dissent. 

    What I do know–Baltimore City hates audits, refuses to audit its various departments.  What I do know–the city’s water and sewer department sent exorbitant water bills to its constituents based on fiction and not on reality.  

    What I do know– the speed cameras in Baltimore have been issuing bogus tickets, that there is going to be no restitution for the bogus tickets, that speed camera installers stood to profit from the tickets, that the city authorities struck such a corrupt deal with the speed camera operators knowingly. 

    What I do know–Baltimore is subject to fits and starts of development based on the fits and starts of the developers, not based on common sense or the common good.  What I do know–Baltimore cares a hoot about aesthetics or sound environmental practices, it cares not a whit for its historical monuments, its trees or its museums. 

    What I do know–Baltimore gives biggie tax breaks to already rich developers so they’ll shut up and wheel and deal in Baltimore, while simultaneously it cuts funding for rec centers, for firefighters etc. 

    What I do know–Baltimore stood by silently and watched its steel industry dismantled and decimated, it saw its steel workers laid off without a stitch of protection. 

    What I know is enough for me to conclude that 10 Kim Truehearts are not enough to change Baltimore, mired as it is in corruption and authoritarianism.  The epistemology–the body of my knowledge– dictates that Baltimore needs more in your face activism and not a mousy “I’ll go along to get along” attitude. 

    So the Pirate’s seemingly moderate approach couched in Socratic language flies in the face of reality.        

    • lutherh

      Thanks for all of your comments.  It is sad that people don’t realize that sometimes someone needs to be in place to ask the questions and raise the concerns that all of us want to do.

    • Barnadine_the_Pirate

      Don’t bother you with facts, because you already know.  Gotcha.  Because Beth Steel is bankrupt, Trueheart’s arrest was unjust.

      Good to know how your reasoning process works, just for future reference.

    • James Hunt

       Ushanellore wrote:

      ” …  What I do know–Baltimore cares a
      hoot about aesthetics or sound environmental practices, it cares not a
      whit for its historical monuments, its trees or its museums.

      “… What I do know–Baltimore stood by silently and watched its steel
      industry dismantled and decimated …”


      A fine flourish of anaphora and synecdoche, but with a glaring internal contradiction. Someone in Baltimore must’ve cared enough about the environment to bring the regulatory hammer down on Sparrows Point, so it can’t be the case that “Baltimore stood silently by” as the steel industry died. Too, the way the comboxes light up every time Mark writes something about SP suggests that “silence” is the least of SP’s problems. Environmental regs, a saturated global market coupled with a weak economy, newer plants in “right to work” states, etc., are the bigger problems.

      At any rate, despair is the enemy.  Take it away, mystic poet Gerard Manly Hopkins, SJ:

      Baltimore trivia moment: the opening line of this poem is engraved on the facade of  Loyola U’s new science building at Charles and Cold Spring. Take that, Plato!

  • krisnorthrup

    Kim, glad you’re out.  thank you so much for your courage and your dedication.  Your courage is admirable

  • lutherh

    I commend Kim Trueheart for her dedication in keeping the residents of Baltimore City informed about what is going on in their government.  Many of us don’t have the time or must be careful with our interactions with the City because of family responsibilities, fear of retaliation on organizations and employers that we work for and of being blackballed by political leaders.  If we could organize and get the political agenda out to our citizens, businesses and political leaders who try to do what is best, the few who do not want to hear the voice of advocacy will be forced to hear us.  One person can make a difference, but with more people working towards the City fulfilling its promise of transparency it is harder to step on the civil rights on our residents.  All of us have our methods of doing things to make a difference and we need to start using them.  There comes a time that we know what we are up against and we must make a decision to continue to be run over by people who do not care about us or start getting educated and active in advocating for issues that we know are right.  This is America, the land of the free, not a dictatorship.  Personally, I pray many times a day for God to step in and soften the hearts of our leaders and politicians so that they can be understanding and fair.  One day that prayer will be answered.  Baltimore, let’s make a commitment for each one of us to teach another so that we grow to be informed and be actively involved.  Kim, keep doing what you do.  You are making a difference.

  • ushanellore

    OK Pirate,
    I see that out of the number of things I mentioned you picked on one to highlight it as a non sequitur.  It isn’t.  I did not say that Trueheart’s arrest was unjust because Beth Steel went bankrupt.  It is what you said I said Pirate, because you were miffed your Socratic logic was not lapped up.  That is your non sequitur, not mine.  Mine was a repartee to your comment that  because no one was there at the events that led to Trueheart’s arrest and no one really knew how it fell, all comments on the thread are guesses.  On the surface an obvious piece of logic except that I felt, the city has a poor record in the justice arena and I didn’t expect it to break that record with justice toward Trueheart.  My comment simply highlighted what I know about city hall’s various shenanigans to tell you, “Hey Pirate, your moderation notwithstanding, most who have been following Baltimore City’s political actors should acknowledge justice is not their forte.  There are many examples to prove it.”  It seems I got you below the solar plexus. 

  • Paul Harrell

    Thank you for all you do for the city Kim. The more I learn the more I am appalled by the city and grateful for your activism.

  • ushanellore

    And for all this, nature is never spent;

       There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

    And though the last lights off the black West went

       Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs–

    Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

       World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.


  • ushanellore

    And for all this, nature is never spent;

       There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

    And though the last lights off the black West went

       Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs–

    Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

       World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
    By Gerard Manly Hopkins

    And for all this, nature is for ever spent,
    There lives a rancid brackishness deep down things;
    And when the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brink of extinction limped–
    Because the Holy Ghost over a wasted world wept–
    its warm breast heavy with the callous manner of things
    wrought by men on Icarus wings…
    By Usha Nellore–dedicated to the ever wise James Hunt–
    Despair is the inspiration for revolt, it is the fire in the belly of the sleeping beast

    • James Hunt

      Ushanellore wrote:

      “Despair is the inspiration for revolt, it is the fire in the belly of the sleeping beast”


      Interesting. Wouldn’t have figured you for a Yeats fan, but it’s hard to miss the similarities here to The Second Coming:

      ” … And what rough beast, its hour come round at last/    Slouches towards
      Bethlehem to be born?”

      Well, Maud Gonne, the logical next step is for you and the crew in motley to take over the GPO, er, City Hall. It’ll be like Easter 1916 all over again. Maybe Marty “Life of the Party” O’Malley will join yiz.

      More Baltimore trivia: Larry Gibson is a great lover of Irish history and culture, and wears the green, orange, and white with great aplomb.

  • ushanellore

    O’Malley, life of the party, will be one of the taken.  Maud Gonne may be long gone but her spirit lives on in the Kim Truehearts of this world.   The Discers, the Hunts and the Pirates may moderate, modulate and equivocate, the SRBs may retaliate, the cops gone rogue may bludgeon and incarcerate but Maud Gonne, never really gone, is a reincarnate, many times over, in citizens who interrogate–the powers that be–and asseverate–their positions. 

    • James Hunt

      Well, Citizen Ushanellore, ’tis a fine bit of luck for you and the rest of the _sans-culottes_ that there are granite pavers in front of City Hall ripe to be plucked and thrown when the barricades go up. Mind the Jacobins in your midst though. Treacherous buggers, that lot.

      More Baltimore trivia: in the heady days when Margaret Thatcher was British Prime Minister, the Cat’s Eye Pub in Fells Point had a painting at the north end of the bar featuring protesters throwing pavers at British troops in Belfast. Today, the painting is gone and the spot is occupied by a refrigerator. A metaphor for ardor cooled?

  • ushanellore

     No a metaphor for peace won through revolts and a metaphor for an enemy diminished and dismantled by the process citizen Hunt.  But the Cat’s Eye Pub did Irish history wrong–it should have kept the picture as a reminder of a hard fought and hard won peace.  Perhaps the refrigerator is a necessity while history mostly is an inconvenient reminder of man’s barbarism.  Amnesia is a marvelous anodyne.  Like religion, it is the opiate of the masses.  And on that comment of mine Citizen Hunt, I know you’ll have plenty to say with votive candles in your hands and a devotional on your lips.   

    • James Hunt

       Ushanellore wrote:

      “… Like religion, it is the opiate of the masses. And on that comment of mine Citizen Hunt, I know you’ll have plenty to
      say with votive candles in your hands and a devotional on your lips.”


      Mm-mmm. Nothing like a little warmed-over Marxism on an icy Monday morning.

      Are you suggesting that the women who have professed vows to the Oblate Sisters of Providence, whose ministries include St. Frances Academy in Johnston Square, are under the influence of faith-based opiates?

      Brings to mind what Lincoln is supposed to have said when told of rumors of General Grant’s drinking: “If it makes fighting men like Grant, then find
      out what he drinks, and send my other commanders a case!”If you want to know what a fighting woman looks like, head on over to Chase and Forrest Streets. You got one thing right, though: you were in my intentions when I prayed the rosary yesterday.

      So, borrowing a line from Bill Murray in Caddyshack, “You got that going for you.”

  • trueheart4life

    To: ushanellore ~ Thank you for your perspectives on the insanity, I enjoy reading them!!! 

  • ushanellore

    I am suggesting that Citizen Hunt.   Yes the Oblate Sisters of Providence have their own pot of opiate like all the blessed sisters and brothers of this world.  When you prayed the rosary yesterday and you whispered to your higher myth for my salvation, I hope you earned brownie points for praying for a sinner whose sins you don’t know well enough to enumerate unless, of course, you count my so called “Marxist Streak” as the biggest sin of all and that is where you went with your rosary.  I guess praying for your opponent counts as a virtue in the Oblate Sisters’ domain–keep praying.  St.Peter may admit you yet, through the portals of paradise, where all things are so boringly serene its wraith citizens are probably going berserk.

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