Confused by the plan for enforcing Baltimore’s youth curfew this summer? You might not be alone.

Messaging from Mayor Brandon Scott’s administration in the days leading up to Memorial Day weekend — when enforcement of the city’s long-standing curfew kicks off again — has been muddled and at times misleading.

Under the mayor’s curfew plan, unaccompanied Baltimore residents ages 13 and under must be home between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weekend and holiday nights, while residents ages 14 to 16 must be home between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. during those periods. The policy includes numerous exceptions.

You wouldn’t know those details from mass text messages and robocalls that went out to Baltimore residents Friday morning, though. Text messages and robocalls received by Banner employees stated that the city’s curfew ordinance would be “in effect” from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. “all summer,” omitting the mayor’s guidance that the curfew is only supposed to be enforced on weekends and holidays. The messages also leave out details about the different time requirements for different age groups.

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The robocalls, which feature the voice of Deputy Mayor Letitia Dzirasa, begin with the automated notice: “This is an emergency message.” Scott, too, muddled details of his enforcement plan Wednesday when he stated the wrong curfew time for the younger age group at a news conference (a detail that was also misstated in a mayor’s office press release after).

Jack French, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, said the inconsistency between the automated messaging campaign and the mayor’s actual plan is because the city’s long-standing curfew ordinance is “in effect” every night of the week this summer, even if children will only be stopped for violations on weekends and holidays.

Baltimore’s curfew ordinance, though, has been on the books for years, with enforcement varying under different mayors over the last decade.

Asked whether these inconsistencies could create confusion, French said getting out information about the broader terms of the curfew ordinance might have positive effects. “At the end of the day, if this messaging” convinces parents to “have their children inside during the weekdays, that is not a bad thing,” he said.

In addition to the text messages and robocalls, the director of the mayor’s public safety office Shantay Jackson said Wednesday that the city has printed 80,000 informational cards about the curfew that were set to be placed in the backpacks of all Baltimore City Public School students on Friday. The two-sided cards include information about city-sponsored activities for kids this summer and an overview of the mayor’s curfew plan, including accurate specifics on weekend enforcement and age group time distinctions.

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Also contributing to potential confusion this week was a leaked internal Baltimore Police Department memo outlining protocol for officers who find kids out after hours. The memo does not distinguish between enforcement on weekends or on weeknights, though police spokeswoman Lindsey Eldridge said the department plans to follow the mayor’s guidance.

Still, city leaders this week said the enforcement plan could change. The city will evaluate the effectiveness of the curfew throughout the summer, and the mayor’s office said Wednesday that they will assess the possibility of moving to daily enforcement after school lets out next month.

Looking for details on the city’s curfew plan? Read more in The Banner’s breakdown.

adam.willis@thebaltimorebanner.com

Residents testify for more housing assistance and a skate park in West Baltimore

Baltimoreans had their last chance to make their budget pitches on Thursday to city lawmakers at the second and final taxpayers’ night. Next week, the council will sit through budget hearings before voting on Mayor Brandon Scott’s $4.4 billion budget proposal, with new budget authority that will allow them to move money within the plan.

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Baltimore Renters United called for the council to divert $25 million in emergency rental assistance, which would represent a significant increase from the $5 million the city has already spent.

Samantha Gowing, an attorney with the Public Justice Center who represents families facing evictions, estimated that the $25 million would help 8,000 households avoid being ousted from their homes. She also noted that Philadelphia has committed a total of $30 million to its rental assistance program.

“The current rental assistance that’s available is rapidly running out and the state has failed to put more money into it,” she said about Maryland.

Baltimore Renters United activists also asked the council to allocate $2 million to recruit and retain housing safety inspectors and $1.6 million to implement the city’s right to counsel evictions law, which former Mayor Jack Young signed in 2020.

Loraine Arikat, a senior policy analyst at 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the nation’s largest health care worker union, told the council that tenants deserve to have just representation in eviction court.

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“We simply cannot afford to not adequately fund these needed measures because safe consistent reliable housing is health,” she said.

Advocates also rallied for a skate park in West Baltimore’s Easterwood Park.

Stephanie Murdock, who is the director of legislative services at the city Department of Housing and Community Development and a former aide to retired Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, pitched the council on the development of a skate park in West Baltimore’s Easterwood Park. The shovel-ready project was not included in a new design plan for Easterwood.

Murdock, along with many others, pleaded with the council to follow through on the plans, noting that Baltimore’s four other skate parks are in predominantly white neighborhoods.

“The decision to divest or not build upon these funds is not only unjust, but a waste of resources. The city has already spent $24,000 on designs and construction documents for this skate park,” she said.

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Chrissy Brown, a professional skateboarder also known as Sosii, said the skate community never received any official reason as to why the plans were abandoned.

“I just feel like I am here today, I am alive today, I am well today, because of my skateboard,” she said. When she was a preteen growing up in a Black neighborhood, she needed to travel across the city to use a skate park.

Following through on the plans “will give the youth something to do to stay out of trouble” and make access to the sport more equitable, she said.

emily.sullivan@thebaltimorebanner.com

Maryland Cannabis Administration posts industry regulations

As the July 1 legalization date approaches, the Maryland Cannabis Administration on Thursday posted the regulations it will use to oversee the state’s recreational cannabis industry.

The agency’s policy is based on the cannabis reforms signed into law by Gov. Wes Moore in May after lawmakers received a mandate in November from voters.

The public posting launches an approval process, allowing a joint committee of Maryland legislators a check on how the administration will execute the law.

Agency regulations require the joint committee’s approval before they can take effect, and committee members can request a public hearing on the regulations, according to an online document outlining the process.

In a news release the agency said they’ll hold a public webinar to answer questions, the details of which will soon be announced. The agency expects the emergency regulations to take effect on July 1, according to the release, and invited any questions to be sent to policy.mmcc@maryland.gov.

brenda.wintrode@thebaltimorebanner.com

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