AFRO Friday-Saturday28-001

(Left) Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford and the Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant (right). (Courtesy Photos)

Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford has taken the Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant to task over the latter’s criticism of a $30 million youth detention facility slated for Baltimore City.

Rutherford’s comments came in a May 27 appearance on WBAL 1090 AM radio, one day after Bryant, head pastor of northwest Baltimore’s Empowerment Temple, led a demonstration that shut down key thoroughfares into the city during a morning rush hour protest against the planned detention facility.

In his own earlier appearance on WBAL radio, Bryant chastised Gov. Larry Hogan for choosing to fund a youth jail rather than funding the budget shortfall for Baltimore City Public Schools. Bryant responded to a challenge by the program’s host that the youth jail was necessary to satisfy a U.S. Department of Justice requirement that adults and juveniles be detained separately.

“The Department of Education also said it’s illegal that Baltimore public schools are dilapidated, that many of our public schools don’t have air condition, that many of our teachers have to go into classrooms that are in no capacity, that the only piece of technology is just for you to check whether or not there’s a weapon, that’s also illegal,” Bryant said. “The governor decided which was the priority, education or incarceration. And if you’re saying that the number one priority for Baltimore young people is not to make sure their schools are up to par, but…to make sure there’s a juvenile detention center, something is off with the priorities because we’ve broken the law on both the schools and the jails.”

Rutherford countered that Bryant had his facts wrong.

“The facility has been in the planning process for many years, dating back probably to at least the early O’Malley administration,” Rutherford said. “Even from a procurement standpoint, it goes back five years or more.”

According to Rutherford, Hogan did not choose to fund the detention facility over public education, and that planning for the facility preceded Hogan’s election in November.

Bryant has promised to hold additional protests throughout Maryland, despite a claim by radio host Clarence Mitchell IV that the first protest delayed a surgical team from entering the city. Rutherford suggested that protesters should be arrested and prosecuted if they are “violating the law,” saying Baltimore City “decided to handle that situation yesterday differently, in what they felt was appropriate…but safety has to be paramount.”