Judge Halts Sale Of Apartment Complex Where Black Graves Were Buried

Bethesda, MD – A community coalition has provided “overwhelming evidence” that a portion of a suburban Washington apartment complex was used as a burial ground for freed Black slaves and their descendants and “many bodies likely still remain on the property,” a Maryland judge ruled Monday in a case by the group to thwart the sale of the property.

The Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission’s pending $50 million sale of Westwood Tower in Bethesda to a local investment firm, Charger Ventures, drew intense public opposition over the summer and led to the lawsuit filed by the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition. The group had furnished historical accounts indicating the gravesite — known as Moses Cemetery — was paved over with asphalt for a parking lot when the apartments went up in the late 1960s.

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Maryland Naval Installation Pollutes Region By Incinerating Munitions

The Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division (Indian Head) has conducted open burning/open detonation (OB/OD) of military flares that contain up to 45% of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), according to a report by Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger, (CSWAB). Indian Head has conducted OB/OD for decades without a hazardous waste (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) permit. EPA officials confirm there are no enforceable permit conditions restricting the amount or type of munitions treated by OB/OD, including flares.

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Cutting Food Waste: A Lesson In Climate Awareness And Environmental Literacy

Baltimore, MD – As a “farm to school specialist” in the Baltimore City public schools, Anne Rosenthal splits her time between an office and Great Kids Farm in Catonsville, a 33-acre plot of land, complete with forests, a stream, greenhouses and a barn with animals, owned and operated by the school district.

“A lot of students have never had the opportunity to plant a seed or a small plant, or harvest straight from plants and taste farm-fresh produce,” Rosenthal said.

When kids have that first experience of “picking a cherry tomato off the plant and putting it in their mouths,” she said, “they’re much more apt to be excited to see that cherry tomato on their school lunch tray.”

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Judge Blocks Sale Of Historic African Cemetery

A Montgomery County Circuit Court ruled Wednesday, September 1st, 2021, that Montgomery County may not sell the land that includes the historic Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda, Maryland. Judge Karla Smith issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) forbidding the sale of the cemetery, currently owned by the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC.) This ruling is seen as historic because of the rarity of communities prevailing in court over multi-million-dollar corporations and government agencies. The sale of the cemetery took place without a hearing or public notice, essentially under the cover of darkness. The next step is a hearing on a preliminary injunction which will be held Sept. 27th, 2021.

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Baltimore Aspires To ‘Zero Waste’ But Recycles Only A Fraction Of Its Plastic

Baltimore, Maryland — Leaders here aspire to create a city with zero waste. But new research shows that Baltimore has only attained an estimated residential plastic recycling rate of 2.1 percent, far below the national average of about nine percent.

The report, by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, a coalition of 800 groups and individuals who advocate for zero waste, found that Baltimore’s plastic recycling rate was the lowest of the five cities surveyed, which included Minneapolis, Minnesota; Long Beach, California; Newark, New Jersey; and Detroit, Michigan.

“Well, I’m not surprised because plastics recycling has been an abysmal failure despite the millions of dollars spent by the plastics industry trying to get the public to believe that you can actually recycle plastics,” said Judith Enck, a former regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the president of Beyond Plastics, an organization that seeks to end plastics pollution.

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Nonviolent Jousting With Northrop Grumman

Under the aegis of Baltimore Peace Action, twelve stalwarts left Baltimore on September 3 to take on weapons contractor Northrop Grumman.  If Sancho Panza were with us, he would have described our journey to Linthicum Heights, Maryland as foolish and nonsensical.  How dare this group to think it could joust with a giant weapons contractor which has great influence in Congress, in the Pentagon and even in the White House?  Nevertheless, armed with signs, a Veterans for Peace flag, chunks of watermelon, Pellegrino water and a letter to CEO Jackie Warden, we arrived at a corporate office.  Our signs carried messages which were in the letter:  Say No to Northrop Grumman, Northrop Grumman Profits from War, Stop Buying Legislators and Close the Revolving Door.

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Descendants Sue County To Stop The Human Trafficking Of Black Bodies

The unthinkable, unconscionable, immoral, racist, and illegal is occurring in Bethesda, Maryland located in Montgomery County. For those who thought the buying and selling of Black bodies was made illegal by the 13th amendment, Montgomery County, Maryland is challenging that notion. To paraphrase Frederick Douglas, the 21st century selling and buying of Black flesh in Montgomery County, Maryland should “disgrace a nation of savages.”

For more than 350 years, Montgomery County has displayed a history of kidnapping, raping, and murdering of Africans. The County, in collusion with a private investor, has placed Black people back on the auction block and plans to sell over 500 Black remains along with a high-rise building to Charger Ventures.

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The Navy Is Misleading A Maryland Community On PFAS Dangers

Maryland – The Patuxent River Naval Air Station says the PFAS foam it sent down the drain on May 16 to the wastewater treatment plant operated by the St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission (METCOM) is safe.

It’s not true. The foams are toxic and have been released into the environment.

Captain John Brabazon, Patuxent River NAS Commanding Officer said in a press statement, “We understand the public’s concern when it comes to issues like PFAS, which is why we have transitioned to the replacement AFFF like the Ansulite.”

The Navy says the new Ansulite firefighting foam does not contain detectable levels of PFOS or PFOA.  Few seem concerned by the 2,500 gallon release. St. Mary’s Commissioner Todd Morgan commented, “The base says the foam isn’t toxic.”

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Kushner Companies Violated Multiple Laws

It’s been six years since Dionne Mont first saw her apartment at Fontana Village, a rental housing complex just east of Baltimore. She was aghast that day to find the front door coming off its hinges, the kitchen cabinet doors stuck to their frames, mouse droppings under the kitchen sink, mold in the refrigerator, the toilet barely functioning and water stains on every upstairs ceiling, among other problems. But she had already signed the lease and paid the deposit.

Mont insisted that management make repairs, but that took several months, during which time she paid her $865 monthly rent and lived elsewhere. She was hit with constant late fees and so-called “court” fees, because the management company required tenants to pay rent at a Walmart or a check-cashing outlet, and she often couldn’t get there from her job as a bus driver before the 4:30 p.m. cutoff.

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Maryland To Review Cases Of Medical Examiner Who Testified In George Floyd Case

During the trial of Derek Chauvin, one key issue was a dispute over the cause of George Floyd’s death. While the prosecution was pointing out that Floyd had suffocated because of neck restraint by police, the defense suggested that there were additional factors that contributed to his death, including Floyd’s reported heart disease and drug abuse.

Autopsy conclusions of in-custody deaths made by forensic pathologist Dr. David Fowler during his 17 year career as a chief medical examiner in Maryland, who testified in Chauvin’s trial, will be re-examined, the Baltimore Sun reported on Friday, citing state officials.

The decision was made after Fowler, a former chief medical examiner in Maryland from 2002 to 2019, testified in court as a defense witness, stating that Chauvin’s neck compression was not a “substantial contributor” to Floyd’s death.

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Black Mass Incarceration In The So-Called Free State

Until recently, the horrifyingly unjust reality of America’s mass incarceration system has not been a central concern in popular political discourse. In the past few years, however, more people have learned about the brutality and inhumanity of mass incarceration as artists, activists, documentarians, and elected officials have called attention to the broken U.S. criminal justice system—and its disproportionate harm to Black and Brown people. But is this increased awareness of the problem translating to increased efforts to address it?

While officials like Maryland’s Gov. Larry Hogan say they’re reducing incarceration rates and improving prison conditions, the data tells a different story. For instance, the Justice Policy Institute’s report “Rethinking Approaches to Over Incarceration of Black Young Adults in Maryland” shows that Maryland incarcerates Black people at more than twice the national rate and leads the country in incarcerating young Black men.

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Building Black Working Class Power In Maryland

The state of Maryland and Baltimore City in particular have been dominated by Democratic Party politics for decades, yet many residents struggle under a repressive police force, a lack of affordable housing, gentrification, inadequate investment in schools and in majority black communities, environmental pollution, and more. Black workers in the state have spent the past ten years building their own political structure, the Ujima People’s Progress Party, to challenge the Democrats and now having established a base of support, they are working to achieve ballot access. Clearing the FOG speaks with the state organizer, Nnamdi Lumumba, about building black worker power in the state by engaging with communities around the struggles they are facing, building self-sufficiency and providing political education. He explains why this is necessary at this moment in time and how it fits into the broader picture of building political power on the Left.

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Could Baltimore’s Climate Change Suit Become A Supreme Court Test Case?

What began as a narrow jurisdictional question to be argued Tuesday before the U.S. Supreme Court in a climate change lawsuit filed by the city of Baltimore could take on far greater implications if the high court agrees with major oil companies to expand its purview and consider whether federal, rather than state courts, are the appropriate venue for the city’s case and possibly a host of similar lawsuits. 

The high court initially agreed to hear a request by the oil and gas industry to review a ruling by the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in which the court affirmed a federal district judge’s decision to allow Baltimore’s lawsuit to be tried in state, rather than federal, court based on a single jurisdiction rule.  

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Bad News For Chesapeake Bay Seafood Lovers

Testing done in October 2020 showed rockfish containing 23,100 parts per trillion (ppt) of a variety of per-and-poly fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) , crabs containing 6,650 ppt, and oysters having 2,070 ppt of the toxins. See the results here. The rockfish was caught in Cornfield Harbor in the Potomac River and the oyster and crab were collected from St. Inigoes Creek in Saint Mary’s County.  Public health officials say people should not be consuming more than 1 part per trillion of these toxins per day.

The seafood was taken from waters that are close to the Webster Outlying Field of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station where the chemicals were used in firefighting exercises over many years.

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Report: Incarceration Destabilizes Neighborhood Economies

A report released by the Maryland Center for Economic Policy suggests decreasing the state’s prison budget will lead to a healthier economy and increased public safety.

The report, released Wednesday, found that Black Marylanders are 4 1/2 times more likely to serve prison sentences than any other racial or ethnic group. Indigenous Maryland residents are twice as likely to be incarcerated than any other racial or ethnic group.

“None of what we’re doing is making any of us safer and it’s most certainly not making those Black communities that are being robbed of human capital ― it’s not making them any safer…

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