The Baltimore City NAACP plans to open a new satellite office next to Gilmor Homes, the housing project where Freddie Gray was raised, in order to better address the needs of one of the poorest communities in Baltimore City.
Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R) (left), speaks with Baltimore City NAACP president Tessa Hill-Aston (center), and Hassan Giordano, chair of the Baltimore City NAACP’s Criminal Justice Committee. (AFRO Photo/Roberto Alejandro)
The satellite office, located at 1135 N. Gilmor St. will officially open in early May and will house lawyers from the Department of Justice and NAACP national headquarters. The lawyers will assist individuals in expunging their criminal records and record complaints of police brutality from area residents, according to Tessa Hill-Aston, president of the Baltimore City NAACP.
The office will also conduct voter registration and education, and look to connect community members with job opportunities.
“We’re going to be working hard at that piece, because that’s the hardest piece, but that’s the piece that’s most important, to help people with their economics and their finances,” said Hill-Aston, who added that the office would also provide guidance for those interested in starting their own entrepreneurial ventures.
On April 29, Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R) attended a meeting at the new office to discuss ways in which the state could provide assistance.
“We’re going to do our best to help in all those areas,” said Rutherford. “We are concerned about those who are coming out of the institutions and have been out for a while, and what we can do there. We’re particularly concerned about kids so that they don’t have to go through some of the processes and learn the lessons that others have learned. . . . we’ve got to bring jobs back to the city.”
According to Hill-Aston, much of the staff at the new satellite office will come initially from the national office, also located in Baltimore. Cornell Brooks, the national NAACP president, wants the Gilmor satellite office to serve as a pilot model for similar efforts by the NAACP across the country, Hill-Aston said, as it is something that has never been done before.
The office is in need of donations, especially of office supplies, as it prepares to start serving the residents of Gilmor Homes and Sandtown-Winchester.
“I’m just happy at the outpouring of support that we’re getting, and the people calling to say they want to be engaged with us,” said Hill-Aston.