Chanting “Books not bars” and “Education not incarceration,” several hundred people, mostly local high school and college students, marched through Baltimore streets and rallied on Oct. 4 to protest the State of Maryland’s plan to build a multi-million dollar youth jail in the city. Members of the ANSWER Coalition (Act Not to Stop War and End Racism) joined an estimated 30 other community groups in drawing attention to the proposed jail, which will take over $100 million of tax money to incarcerate up to 180 Baltimore youths.
After a short rally at the Baltimore City Detention Center, the crowd marched a few blocks to the site of the proposed new youth jail, now an empty lot. Marchers rallied and tied orange ribbons to the chain link fence surrounding the site as symbols of protest against the facility. The march continued on several blocks to the National Academy Foundation High School, where students rallied for another hour. During the rally, students, teachers and community activists called for Gov. Martin O’Malley to spend the millions of dollars on jobs, recreation centers and other community services in Baltimore.
“Youth need positive opportunities, not a new jail. We should not be wasting money on a new facility when schools are falling apart,” said Rashad Hawkins, an organizer with the Stop the Jail Alliance.