Rev. Dr. Heber Brown of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church (left), and Farajii Muhammad of Young Leaders for Peace

A large coalition of advocacy organizations will march on Annapolis this week, the first week of the legislative session, to demand changes to state laws they believe insulate police from accountability and impede operational transparency in law enforcement. Over eleven organizations are coming together for the march on Jan. 15, organized by the Rev. Dr. Heber Brown of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church and Farajii Muhammad of Young Leaders for Peace.

Among the organizations involved in the march are the Annapolis Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, the Anne-Arundel County NAACP, the Metropolitan United Methodist Church, Repair the World Baltimore, Bmore Bloc, and Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle (LBS), according to Brown. He added that that the majority of the core organizers are college students.

“That list is growing more and more,” said Brown, who called the march a natural outgrowth of efforts taking place in Baltimore City for several months.

According Dayvon Love, director of research and public policy for LBS, his organization’s involvement stemmed from ongoing conversations with Brown and Muhammad, as well as LBS’s legislative agenda for 2015 which consists of reforming the law enforcement officers bill of rights, strengthening Baltimore’s civilian review board, and improving the Maryland’s for expunging criminal records.

“I think that prospects are very great,” said Love. “We’ve been in Annapolis a couple of times on various efforts – stopping the construction of a youth jail, Christopher’s law – so we feel pretty good about our acumen in dealing with the legislative process. So that, plus the outpouring of support that has been generated by a lot of national events and the increased awareness of activity, I think we have a pretty good shot of getting some things through.”

Brown says that any effort to reform current law enforcement policies will likely face resistance from the law enforcement community, and possibly the governor’s office, citing Governor-Elect Larry Hogan’s comment earlier this year that Ferguson had little to do with Maryland.

“I’m under no illusion, it’s going to be a very intense struggle to get something done this session, but it also was an intense struggle to stop the planned construction of a $104 million youth jail in Baltimore,” said Brown.

“This time around we’ve got a little more seasoning, we’re battle tested a bit,” Brown said. “We know what it means to connect the power of grassroots demonstrations with legislative advocacy. We know how to build those bridges more tightly now. While we’re launching things this week, I’m prepared and we are prepared to stay with it for some time to come.”

The goal of organizers was to have between 75-100 people in Annapolis for the march, but both Brown and Love expressed optimism that the crowd could very well be larger. “The response that I’ve gotten since we announced and started promoting it has been huge, so I’m hoping it will be more than that,” said Love.