In the End, we will remember not the words
of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
(BALTIMORE – June 2, 2016) – With all my heart and all my soul, I thank the good Lord for allowing me to be a part of and to witness the most sacrosanct fight the City of Baltimore has ever laid eyes upon. In previous columns, it was noted that this would be the bloodiest election in history – or at least recent history. Thus far, that prediction has been on-point.
Let me say that there is something sacred about our right to vote. Here in our eastern seaboard town that welcomes the Chesapeake Bay, if there is one thing that should not be abused in any way – it is the electoral process.
This goes for men and women, whites and blacks, Native Americans and Latinos, Asians and Africans, citizen and re-entering citizen alike. That’s what the law says. There are certain protections under the US Constitution and they are afforded to all citizens.
According to Wikipedia: “The Fifteenth Amendment (Amendment XV) to the United States Constitution prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” It was ratified on February 3, 1870, as the third and last of the Reconstruction Amendments. …. In the twentieth century, the Court began to interpret the amendment more broadly, striking down grandfather clauses in Guinn v. United States (1915) and dismantling the white primary system in the “Texas primary cases” (1927–1953). Along with later measures such as the Twenty-fourth Amendment, which forbade poll taxes in federal elections, and Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections (1966), which forbade poll taxes in state elections, these decisions significantly increased black participation in the American political system. To enforce the amendment, Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which provided federal oversight of elections in discriminatory jurisdictions, banned literacy tests and similar discriminatory devices, and created legal remedies for people affected by voting discrimination.”
It was in 1920 that women actually got the right to suffrage or to vote. This came about as a result of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
According to History.com, “Ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote—a right known as woman suffrage. At the time the U.S. was founded, its female citizens did not share all of the same rights as men, including the right to vote. It was not until 1848 that the movement for women’s rights launched on a national level with a convention in Seneca Falls, New York, organized by abolitionists Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) and Lucretia Mott (1793-1880). Following the convention, the demand for the vote became a centerpiece of the women’s rights movement. Stanton and Mott, along with Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) and other activists, formed organizations that raised public awareness and lobbied the government to grant voting rights to women. After a 70-year battle, these groups finally emerged victorious with the passage of the 19th Amendment.”
To say the very least, I am utterly astonished at how the Baltimore City Board of Elections and the State Board of Elections managed the 2016 Baltimore City Primary. And when I think of the labors of people like Fannie Lou Hamer, a superior voting rights advocate for people of color who was kicked, beaten, stomped and dragged by white men all because she insisted that her people be allowed to vote – I am even more infuriated.
While not surprised, I am thoroughly disenchanted with the mainstream news media in Baltimore. While few know about the power of the “Fourth Estate,” the media plays a critical role in elections. “In 1841, Thomas Carlyle wrote, ‘Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all’ (On Heroes and Hero Worship).”
Carlyle was a respected thinker – a visionary even who had knowledge of human behavior. According to wiki, “Thomas Carlyle (4 December 1795 – 5 February 1881) was a Scottish philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, historian and teacher. Considered one of the most important social commentators of his time, he presented many lectures during his lifetime with certain acclaim in the Victorian era. One of those conferences resulted in his famous work On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History where he explains that the key role in history lies in the actions of the “Great Man”, claiming that “History is nothing but the biography of the Great Man”. A respected historian, his 1837 book The French Revolution: A History was the inspiration for Dickens‘ 1859 novel A Tale of Two Cities, and remains popular today.”
Not sure if Carlyle ever visited Baltimore, but this city has often been alluded to as a “tale of two cities” also. While Dickens’ novel was set in London and Paris, it nonetheless illuminates the tension between the haves and the have nots – the everyday citizen and the elite.
Before I go on, I just have to say that while voter suppression is quite often associated with Republican whites stymieing black political power – this recent election in Baltimore brought to light how elite black Democrats, if you will, have attempted to impose their political will on the masses of black people in the same or similar manner.
WBAL TV Investigative Reporter Jayne Miller tweeted recently that it is odd that while Catherine Pugh won Early Voting in a significant fashion, Sheila Dixon dominated the vote count on Election Day. Typically, the winner of Early Voting wins the election.
On May 17th, her twitter account (@jemillerwbal) posted: “Interesting from primary election.. Early voting: Pugh up by 3602 votes Election day voting: Pugh down by 1014 votes Typically 2 are similar.”
Couple this observation with the fact that there were 1,650 voting irregularities in Baltimore City’s Primary compared with 200 statewide (23 other jurisdictions combined) – not to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on TV and other media attack ads on former Mayor Sheila Dixon by Alex Sanchez’ Clean Slate PAC (Sanchez is a former employee of Gov. Martin O’Malley and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake) – one quickly gets the impression that Team Pugh and the ever-supportive Maryland Democratic Party, headed by MD State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (he ultimately controls the State Board of Elections in a 2-to-1 Democratic state) is attempting to alter the results of the Baltimore City 2016 Primary Election as we speak.
And so, let me say that although Kweisi Mfume, Attorney Billy Murphy, Rev. Jamal Bryant, Congressman Elijah Cummings and other noted black Baltimore Democrats sided with Catherine Pugh for Mayor – many of us in the city believe that Sheila Dixon – despite those insurmountable odds, forged ahead like the political powerhouse she is and did, in fact, win the 2016 Primary.
There are so many fleeting thoughts in my head right now: From the press conference our previously unknown group – Voters Organized for the Integrity of City Elections (VOICE) – held to question the Baltimore City Board of Elections’ handling of this election to the estimated two to three thousand struggling black Baltimoreans who were usurped into voting for Pugh in what has become known as “Chicken Box-Gate”, it is almost impossible to wrap one’s brain around the entire series of events.
While the idea to hire people for a chicken box, a hundred dollars, and the promise of a job garnered Pugh votes she would have never otherwise gotten, it is nonetheless illegal to buy votes in the United States. On top of that, because she over-hired, a riot ensued on April 26th/Election Day – one day before the one-year anniversary of Freddie Gray.
The mainstream media in Baltimore buried this April 26th riot just like it buried the story a week earlier about Pugh hiring people – or promising to hire people – for a cotton-picking chicken box and some money.
At minimum, the electoral process in Baltimore was terribly flawed and it disaffected more than the outcome of the mayoral race. Given the slim margins in some of these City Council and judgeship races, many people question the validity of any of the results.
I think the thing that most stands out in my mind is the untruths espoused by the head of the Baltimore City Board of Elections, Armstead Jones. While he seemed perturbed that his integrity is in question, I am reminded that they don’t call Baltimore “Mobtown” for nothing. Something went terribly awry and he has yet to explain it all. Neither was the State Board of Elections able to explain the 1,650 inconsistencies.
Were there more? Are we to simply trust these people who spoke untruths about the election results already – like nothing happened? Voters were turned away. People were denied their rights. Several election judges had their first training hours before the polls open and we, as a city, are supposed to believe that there was no hanky-panky?
It is impossible to believe these election results. It is simply impossible.
Mind you, this city has seen political gangsters before. And that is exactly why this election is so important. For the first time since 1999, the people had a lot of say in who they wanted elected into office and so many – black, white and otherwise – felt like that right was taken away.
And somewhere along the line, Jones is responsible. And, so is the State Board of Elections.
This is why I am so proud of VOICE. This “little engine that could” went out there and spoke truth to power. It did what others should have done – others who were silent. And these efforts led to an unprecedented de-certification of the initial results. I can only imagine what will happen next because too many Baltimoreans are of the firm belief that this ‘impossible’ fight is simply not over.
Please stay-tuned to Bmorenews.com as we continue to follow the story of the attempted lifting of Baltimore’s 2016 Primary out of the hands of the people. I firmly believe that some people have stepped across the line, that laws were broken, and that people were unnecessarily shattered. I am indeed ashamed of people whom I otherwise would be compelled to respect – but not anymore.