We are currently in day 7 of our "Flowers Across Maryland" Road Trip and I finally have a few minutes to share what we are doing with you.
This trip has been illuminating. We are visiting areas of the state that don't often attract candidates to hear people's concerns and to let voters know that they have other choices on the ballot this November 8. Everywhere we go, we are meeting wonderful people who tell us about what is working and what isn't working in their community.
On the first night, we stayed in Hagerstown. We learned that a few days before our arrival, police detained and pepper-sprayed a fifteen-year-old girl after she had a bike accident. She refused treatment, but they forced her to stay and escalated the situation to the point where she was hysterical. I reviewed videos of the encounter and saw that police were rough with her, pulling her off of her bike, slamming her into a wall, forcing handcuffs on her and pepper-spraying her when she was in an enclosed place in the back of the police car. I expressed concern on Facebook about her treatment.
Hundreds of people from Hagerstown had protested at the police station prior to our arrival. The next day, I was invited by a witness of the event to attend a press conference at City Hall and to join them at the police station. We decided to alter our plans so that we could be there to gain a better understanding of the situation and show support for the community.
What we saw and heard in Hagerstown reminded me of the environment in Baltimore. Youth and their parents told us of being detained and searched by police regularly just for walking down the street, particularly if they are people of color. They told us that two of the officers who detained the young girl have been a problem in the community for a while, but they do not have any recourse to take them off the street. We heard stories of youth being locked up for minor incidents. And we heard frustration for not being able to find work because of a criminal record.
I spoke with a City Councilman and members of the police force who held fast to their claim that the officers acted appropriately. They failed to show interest in reviewing the event with a critical lens or to consider that their training in de-escalation techniques could be improved. This failure to be accountable and to pursue improvement is unacceptable in any profession, but especially in those who hold the power of life and death. Can you imagine if we used the same standard for health professionals? Would anyone want a doctor to continue treating patients if they were causing harm?
I understand that officers have a difficult profession and that they need support too. I also recognize that we must consider other root causes of violence in communities. But the epidemic of police violence must end and this starts by holding police accountable for their actions. In just the past week, twenty-one year old Tawon Boyd was beaten to death in Baltimore after police were called to his home and the officer who shot and killed Korryn Gaines was given charges.
We will discuss community and police relations in the "Ask Margaret About" tonight, Tuesday, September 27, at 7 pm on Facebook Live. Tune in on my Facebook Page and ask questions or share your thoughts.
We've been visiting recognized Main Streets on our tour as well. We spoke to business-owners in Cumberland, Thurmont, Emmitsburg, Taneytown, Westminster, Havre de Grace, Centreville, Berlin and Easton. Small business owners are the backbone of our communities and economies. Many of the businesses sell locally-made products and up-cycled items such as furniture made from reclaimed barn wood. I bought a Maryland flag necklace made out of a section from a broken mug.
In Havre de Grace, we learned about their efforts to go green. They have two community gardens and are starting to plant a food forest. They have also bought two electric cars for the city government. They are working on a resolution to ban fracking. And they are also working to attain status as a recognized sustainable city.
Everywhere we go we meet voters who are tired of the two status-quo parties. Many expressed exasperation that their choices of candidates are lousy and were excited to learn that they have more choices. When we explained that the commercial media outlets like the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post aren't giving our campaign fair coverage because the solutions we promote challenge those in power, they got it.
Election Day is exactly six weeks away. We plan to continue visiting as many towns in Maryland as we can, but we also need your help to spread the word about the campaign. Here is what you can do:
1. Forward our campaign emails to other voters in Maryland.
3. Demand that I be included in the upcoming debates. Contact the Kojo Nnamdi Show about the senate debate they are hosting on October 7. The Kojo Nnamdi Show airs live at noon Monday through Friday. You can call in at 1-800-433-8850 and you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Ann Cotten of the University of Baltimore Center for Public Policy about the senate debate on October 26. Her email is email@example.com.
I appreciate your support. This is a critical time to change course so we can solve the multiple crises we face in health care, in wealth inequality, systemic racism, endless wars, the climate crisis and more. We can do it by building political power through an alternative party that is founded on our values. For me, that party is the Green Party because it is rooted in social justice, sustainability, peace and grassroots democracy. If you feel the same, please join me.