June 11, 2023: Justice from the frontlines

cozy relationship in Baltimore

The person who led the oversight of the Baltimore Police Department’s federal consent decree, Ken Thompson, is a family member of the city’s acting city solicitor. This relationship was revealed to a judge but not to the greater public. This relationship underscores complaints within the community over the independence of the people enforcing the consent decree. City officials said that Thompson and his great niece are not in violation of the ethics code. The Baltimore Banner (June 5, 2023)

dismissing $50 million lawsuit

The City of Virginia Beach asked a judge to dismiss a $50 million lawsuit filed against them by the family of Deshayla Harris. In March of 2021, officers struck and killed Harris by a stray bullet when he was a bystander of a feud. This occurred the same night that Donovan Lync was killed by Virginia Beach police officers. Two years later, Harris’ family filed a lawsuit, claiming that the city withheld evidence in the case. In response, the City of Virginia Beach filed a 21-page report to dismiss all the counts to the lawsuit. It argued that it undermines work and efforts to make an arrest.  3WTKR (June 5, 2023)

shooting in Richmond graduation

Eighteen year old Shawn Jackson and his 36-year-old father Renzo Smith were shot after Jackson had received his diploma. The Huguenot High School graduation ceremony in RIchmond, Virginia was where the shooting took place. The police arraigned Amari Pollard who had a dispute with Jackson over a year ago.Police assured the public that the shooting was not gang-related. The assistant principal recalled Jackson as a “very bright young man who could master any textbook.” AXIOS Richmond (June 6, 2023)

neighbor wins no-smoking lawsuit

D.C. Judge Ebony Scott ruled in favor of Josefa Ippolito-Shepherd who sued neighbor Thomas Cacket for smoking medical mairjuana in his apartment. Ippolito-Shephard complained about the odor of marijuana that crept in her house. Scott said that though Cackett is licensed to buy marijuana, “he does not possess a license to disrupt the full use and enjoyment of one’s land.” Scott went on to say that this decision best serves the public interest, as involuntary smokers have no choice but to inhale toxins in the air. Washington Post (June 8, 2023)

michael harrison’s departure 

Last Thursday, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrsion stepped down. This was a shock to the community. This came on the heels of the Tuesday police budget hearing. Harrison has been in this role since March 2019 and led his department through many federally mandated reforms. Gov.Wes Moore said that Harrison “took on a very, very challenging job, and he is a true man of honor and integrity.” The Baltimore Banner (June 8, 2023)

new Baltimore police leader

Richard Worley has been nominated to be the Baltimore Police lead. Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh chose Worley who was a district commander when she was a council woman.He has a reputation as a well-respected and knowledgeable officer, said many community members. The Baltimore Banner (June 8, 2023)

Virginia uses funding for gun violence

Virginia was given a $10 million grant in funding to lower the occurrence of gun crimes. The office of Attorney General Jason Miyares seeks to hire six prosecutors and violence intervention coordinators with the fund. In addition, another $5 million will be spent for hospital-based violence intervention programs. This grant was awarded through the 2023 Operation Ceasefire Grant Program, which will end in 2024. The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services laid out a report that shows how they will spend the $10 million. The Virginia Mercury  (June 5, 2023)

in other news

Children of incarcerated mothers are “falling through the cracks.” Losing a mother figure can lead to traumatic outcomes for children and their families. Black and Hispanic mothers are said to be more severely affected. WRIC (June 5, 2023)

The city of New York is over-reliant  on a tactic called “stop and frisk” in order to combat gun violence. This tactic is proving to be harmful for communities of color and is a civil rights infringement. AP News (June 5, 2023)

After Hurricane Ida, there are reports showing how pollution and climate change affected policing and incarceration. One-third of all state and federal prisons are within health-altering proximity to a federal Superfund site. Capital B (June 7, 2023)

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Zoe Kim attends Villanova University, where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and minors in Economics and Philosophy. Passionate in criminal justice, Zoe was drawn to The Des and independent journalism serving as a call to action. The Dez gives Zoe the opportunity to pursue her interest in media and criminal justice. As an intern, she is enthusiastic to see first-hand how journalism can spark change socially.