Home National Weather First town hall to discuss Johns Hopkins private police force is ended by protesters and moved to online-only format – Baltimore Sun

First town hall to discuss Johns Hopkins private police force is ended by protesters and moved to online-only format – Baltimore Sun

by DrewLUD
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Protesters took hold of a Johns Hopkins University town hall Thursday evening, demonstrating opposition to the planned introduction of a private armed police force.

Hopkins hosted its first town hall for the community to give feedback on the draft memorandum of understanding between the university and Baltimore Police. The event at Shriver Hall was moved to an online-only format after a crowd of chanting protesters followed Hopkins police leader Branville Bard Jr. out of the building, off campus and ultimately to a fenced-in Hopkins campus safety and security building.

The memorandum is a key piece needed for Hopkins to create its private armed police force. It will lay out terms for jurisdiction between city and university police — a proposed entity that has received much opposition and protest from students, faculty and community members the past few years.

The memorandum draft, released Monday, states that the department’s jurisdiction would be any property that is owned, leased, operated by or under the control of the university, including specific boundaries outlined within its Homewood, East Baltimore and Peabody campuses. Hopkins police would also be given power over public property that is immediately adjacent to the campus, including sidewalks, streets or other thoroughfares and parking facilities, the draft states. Officers can operate outside these bounds only if they’re in pursuit of a suspect, are directing traffic or are given orders to do so by the mayor or governor.

The draft will undergo a 30-day period for the community to provide feedback. During this time, three town halls will take place. Around mid-October, the memorandum will be sent to the City Council for another 30-day period. Bard, who is leading the Hopkins police force, said he hopes to have a final version of the memorandum posted online by the end of the year.

Thursday’s town hall was attended by Bard, who ran the meeting, as well as protesters and other members of the community. The meeting was primarily attended by protesters, who started on the steps of Shriver Hall, sitting quietly with signs. Once allowed inside, the protesters lined the stage and sat in the walkways of the auditorium, chanting and stomping.

Moderators attempted to start the event, but protesters moved onto the stage, blocking the screen and drowning out sound from the microphoned lectern.

After much protesting, Bard announced that the town hall would be moved to a virtual format. Panelists and moderators would film from a private location elsewhere on campus. Protesters proceeded to walk outside and follow Bard off campus and to 3001 Remington Ave.

There, Bard sneaked behind a chain-link fence. Protesters surrounded the building, chanting and banging on the doors: “No justice! No peace!”

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