(BALTIMORE – January 27, 2016) – Do you know what the first construction project is that’s to be completed in Sandtown-Winchester post-Freddie Gray? Why, it’s a new Western District Police Station and it is to be completed by this summer, of course!
I was informed of this on January 6, 2016 – along with others from West Baltimore at the offices of Upton Planning at Carrollton and Lafayette, the former home of the late Congressman Parren J. Mitchell. (Can you imagine what PJ would have said? I think he would have cussed’em all out!)
It is called The Baltimore Police Collaborative Public Safety Project: Western District Police Station.
According to the brochure handed out, “Our mission is to build trust between citizens and their peace officers so that all components of a community are treating one another fairly and justly and are invested in maintaining public safety in an atmosphere of mutual respect” (Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
The brochure also states: “The Baltimore Police Public Safety Program is a collaboration with the BCPD, War Horse, JRS Architects and The JS Plank and DM DiCarlo Family Foundation. The team is finding new ways to bring the latest in work place design and customer centric programming to Baltimore City facilities. This is a “shovel-ready” opportunity for immediate investment and summer 2016 results by Baltimore City, community leaders, business leaders and private funders. We believe this project will make a measurable difference for years to come for the Western District community and the police officers who protect and serve our citizens.”
I can read. On the surface, this sounds like it has its merits. However, contextually, it is a slap in the face of not just African Americans in Sandtown-Winchester, but every black person in America.
So, let me get this right: After a tragic death of yet another black man in police custody in a district and a city with multiple past violations and a wicked pattern of behavior when it comes to people of color (citizen and cop), the very first construction project you give the community is a new fort. And you tell them there will be a new ping pong table inside for the community to use?
I hit the roof, to say the least. I could not believe that people with deep pockets think every black person is a sucker for a few bucks such that we will sell-out the entire community. I mean, what was negotiated in return?
This meeting that was convened included leaders from across Central West Baltimore. To me, it was a last-minute PR move to clean-up the fact that most people in the community knew absolutely nothing about a project that has been in play since last summer. Yes, that’s right: This has been in the works since last summer.
According to the brochure, the schematic design was completed on September 25, 2015 and approved on October 16th. Construction documents were complete on December 30th and the project is slated to start this Saturday. This is a $2.9 million project with $859,500 coming from the City of Baltimore.
Essentially, it says to me that Under Armour’s Kevin Plank is putting up two million dollars to make this happen.
Oh, I almost forget. The presenters attempted to make us feel better by stating that this is the third police station to undergo renovations in the city.
I don’t like people, black or white, treating my community as if we are stupid or suckers for a couple of program dollars. This entire project is so cloak and dagger that only a handful of people know about it. I am utterly ashamed at what people do to others in the name of philanthropy and community.
What’s in it for the community? Looks like the beginning of the end.
For the record, this is an iteration of the impending gentrification underway … quietly … in this a majority black community. For the record, these people have no clue about the black community. No jobs brokered; no community/empowerment/computer/entrepreneurial center with a library and a black history museum negotiated. Nope. Nothing in exchange except crumbs: What an embarrassment for the black community – some of whom graduated from some of the best schools in America.
Just goes to show: education without application equals a new police station.