Ralph E. Moore Jr.

By Ralph E. Moore Jr.

Reportedly, just over half of Baltimore City police officers have been vaccinated for COVID-19 as of Oct. 18. Why is that? That is, why has this set of first responders not been 100% vaccinated? That translates to about 1500 of the 2500 sworn officers on the staff of the Baltimore City Police Department have been vaccinated. Is it not all officers who swear to “protect and serve?” Isn’t the vaccine a form of protection? And isn’t getting fully vaccinated the best way to protect the public that the officers may face every day? 

And now that the head of the Baltimore police union (Fraternal Order of Police, the FOP) has urged its members not to discuss their vaccination status with city government, is it appropriate that law enforcement officers are being urged not to obey Mayor Brandon Scott’s mandate, effective Oct. 18?

I don’t understand. If the police don’t abide by the rules, how can they expect the everyday citizens to do so?  If the police adopt a practice of non-communication, how do they expect the community will ever communicate tips and information to law enforcement? I’m just asking: how come? This is a mess.

Just wondering what happened? How come public transportation in Baltimore hasn’t gotten better?

On an afternoon after jury duty a couple of weeks ago, I walked over to Charles and Fayette Streets to take a bus home. Standing on the corner, looking up at the bus signs, I was lost; the once familiar numbers had been replaced with (CityLink) a rainbow of colors for different bus line names and new numbers. If you don’t know your colors, you might not know your way home on the bus these days.  

Normally, I could have taken a single bus home from that corner downtown (either the #3 or the #11).  But my options now from where I was standing were the Silver, the #51 or the Charm City Circulator (the free bus service). The new bus names are not news, I understand. But as a longtime traveler by bus and one of the founding organizers of the Transit Riders League 20 years ago with Chris Ryer and Jamie Kendrick, my mind was recently boggled by how the state government messed up the buses in Baltimore City. Governor Hogan not only killed the east to west Red Line after 10 years of planning and the assured commitment of hundreds of millions of federal dollars to build it, he overhauled the bus system in Baltimore that caused confusion at bus stops and slowed down that particular form of public transportation for riders.

More than one third (31%) of people in Baltimore do not own a car according to the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. Many folks in our little town take buses, Light Rail and MARC trains, the Charm City Circulator, Uber, Lift, Zipcar and those scooters we see everywhere.  

It is poor Black and Brown citizens of Baltimore who use public transportation overwhelmingly. A recent investigative report put out by the Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Environmental Health and Engineering and the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition focused on the slowness of public transportation (longer commute times for riders) and its very limited access by bus to jobs.

Also according to the study, “ are also more likely to live in neighborhoods adjacent to high-traffic roadways or heavily trafficked industrial areas. As a result, they face the highest level of transit-related inequity, not just in terms of commute times but also when it comes to air pollution and health risks associated with vehicle emissions.” In other words, poor folks in Baltimore are inhaling more bad air where they live than everybody else.  

Feel free to look up how the Kirk Avenue Bus Yard was expanded because some White folks wanted the Harford Road bus yard moved from their neighborhood. And it was moved in 1979 to Kirk Avenue, doubling Kirk’s size and meaning more diesel buses spewing fumes in a poor Black neighborhood that happened to be the closest one to a bus yard in Baltimore. Kirk Avenue Bus Yard has since been rebuilt after many meetings, much advocacy and many letters back and forth.

But generally speaking, how come the buses didn’t get better in Baltimore for poor folks over the last few years?  How come, according to all the research, they only got worse?  Just wondering.

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