then think about other ways of promoting social justice. It does seem like some of the folks who were out there in 2015 protesting Freddie Gray who were just—and rightfully so—expressing anger, without caring or thinking about the next step, now they’ve been thinking through what the next steps are. And so when there’s a beautiful moment coming together, unfortunately, from tragedy, it appears that there is now a critical mass of people who are interested in strategically leveraging the attention into concrete victories.
The big reform effort that’s been discussed locally is the repeal of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, which is a set of laws that codified workplace protections for police officers. Critics have pointed to it being a big hindrance to investigations of law enforcement and obstructing police accountability by, for example, shielding records of misconduct from public scrutiny, and letting officers wait five days after an incident before being interrogated. One of the state senators leading the push first introduced legislation to reform the law in 2015—prior to Freddie Gray’s death—but it has gained little traction. It’s exciting to see the potential for its passage. Maryland was the first state in the nation to adopt it in the Seventies, which I didn’t realize till reading a recent article about its history. It has since been adopted by fifteen other states.
MAYA PENDLETON, 27
I know politics. I know policy. I know that defunding is not going to be popular poll-wise—I’m not in some type of fantasy land. But I do think that it could be talked about in a way that is at least not dismissive of this huge contingent of people who are saying that the police are harming us, the police are hurting us. People have been starting to say, “Wait a minute, what causes harm? What are people asking for? What supports are needed in communities?” Also, what is working well in communities that are not able to get funding because it’s not evidence-based or all of the stipulations that come with getting federal funding? People are starting to have those conversations around, how do we trust communities to collect services that they want, but also participate in them without surveillance of programs and police and child welfare and all these other things? So, you know, policy work is slow