Posts tagged Baltimore

Grassroots Expansion for Red Emma’s in Baltimore

In Baltimore, Red Emma’s has some big plans, and they are looking for some grassroots support to build out their worker-owned radical bookstore, café and community space.

Here’s more from the Red Emma’s collective, via IndieGogo. As you may know, one of the harshest restraints on most worker-owned shops, co-ops and radical spaces are the extreme difficulties they have in paying for maintenance and expansions — you need resources to expand but you need to expand to get access to resources, and it’s hard to get bank loans, credit, or any other form of capitalization when you don’t look like a traditional corporate capitalist enterprise. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done but it does mean if it’s going to happen it largely depends on us and our networks to step up and put up the mutual support for the kinds of radical spaces that we want to see, that their institutions won’t fund. Anyway, the campaign is running now over at IndieGoGo, and any support you can send their way will really help with what sounds like some really awesome plans.

After 8 years in the storefront at 800 Saint Paul, Red Emma’s has decided it’s time to move: our current space just isn’t big enough to hold all the things we want to collectively make it do.

Over the past eight years, we’ve hosted a thousand public events, created two new radical spaces (2640 and the Baltimore Free School), organized international conferences, built an amazing annual radical bookfair, and served as a hub knitting together Baltimore’s different politically engaged communities, all the while keeping a collectively-owned and operated business open just about 365 days a year.

… We’ve just signed a lease for the fall of 2013; located at 30 West North Avenue, next door to Liam Flynn’s Ale House (itself started by founding Red Emma’s collective members!), the new space will be over five times the size of our current location.

We’ll be expanding our food operation to a full kitchen, moving beyond our current limited cafe menu to really let some of the culinary talent we’ve got in the collective shine. And we’ll be doing this in a way that makes extensive use of locally sourced agricultural products while keeping prices affordable: healthy, sustainable food should be the norm, not a luxury. We’ll be increasing the footprint of our bookstore sixfold—space constraints alone have prevented us from building the world class selection we’ve dreamed of, and the new space will make it possible to really build the kind of radical bookstore Baltimore deserves.

… The space is going to be far more welcoming; not only are we going to vastly expand the number of seats, we’ll also be full-accessible in the new space … And most importantly, scaling up is going to let us do something we’ve always dreamt of: pay the people working on the project a living wage. Our current storefront has never been big enough to reach the economies of scale we would have needed to keep funding our political mission and also pay ourselves something sustainable for the long-term; most of us work on a volunteer basis right now, and those of us who do get paid don’t get much. With the new space, our plan is to start with a living wage and work our way up from there.

Our plan and your help

Between renovations, equipment purchases, licensing, and other fees, we need roughly $250,000 to open this new space; we’re hoping to raise at least $50,000 through crowdfunding on this site, but the more we can raise here the less debt we will start off with in the new space. While the funds we raise here and elsewhere are crucial, there’s going to be all sorts of opportunities to pitch in to help us get the new space off the ground in other ways as we get closer to opening. Keep up with the status of the project by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook, or subscribing to our mailing list.

“Your constitutional rights have nothing to do with the law.”

From a recent submission to Reason’s Brickbats column:

Mark Chase got a federal court order allowing him to paint on Ocean City, Maryland’s boardwalk without a license. That didn’t impress Baltimore police, who arrested him for painting at the Inner Harbor without a permit. When Chase complained that the permit requirements violated his constitutional rights, and officer told him “Your constitutional rights have nothing to do with the law.”

And of course the officer was right. So: to hell with the law. And to hell with paper constitutions that can do nothing effective to restrain it.

You can quote your constitutional rights all the way to the station-house, but it won’t stop you from getting good and due-processed whenever a cop feels that you’re on the wrong side of The Law. Which, of course, means nothing more or less than on the wrong side of Law Enforcement. Paper constitutions don’t do anything to hold back police abuse; only a culture of popular resistance, social accountability for abusive cops, and hard-driving community activism do that.

Inasmuch as the Constitution was never signed, nor agreed to, by anybody, as a contract, and therefore never bound anybody, and is now binding upon nobody; and is, moreover, such an one as no people can ever hereafter be expected to consent to, except as they may be forced to do so at the point of the bayonet, it is perhaps of no importance what its true legal meaning, as a contract, is. Nevertheless, the writer thinks it proper to say that, in his opinion, the Constitution is no such instrument as it has generally been assumed to be; but that by false interpretations, and naked usurpations, the government has been made in practice a very widely, and almost wholly, different thing from what the Constitution itself purports to authorize. He has heretofore written much, and could write much more, to prove that such is the truth. But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

— Lysander Spooner (1870). No Treason No. 6. The Constitution of No Authority

Support your neighborhood CopWatch.

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Friday Lazy Linking

Quick quiz

Q.: When does a government police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man actually get arrested and promptly charged with first-degree murder, within a week of the shooting?

A.: When he shoots a government soldier instead of one of us civilians.

Well. Maybe I’m not being fair. Maybe the speedy arrest and the severe charge isn’t just due to the fact that he shot a government soldier. Maybe it’s due to the fact that he did the shooting while he was off-duty, drunk, and getting into fights at a club — not gunning somebody down in the street while officially on the job.

Ha ha, just kidding. Back in September 2005, the last time this exact same government police officer shot an unarmed man off-duty in a drunken rage, the punishment he got for this drunken assault with a deadly weapon was an eight-day vacation from his job.

The purpose of government law enforcement has nothing to do with protecting innocent people from crime. The primary purpose of government law enforcement is to protect government force.

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On intersections

(Via stuff white people do 2008-12-07.)

From Suzanne Vega, Measure for Measure (2008-12-03): Which Side Are You On?

The last verse was inspired by a real-life discussion I overheard at a bar in Baltimore. A black man and a white woman were discussing a recent sports event. He called her baby playfully. She called him stats boy, meaning, I guess, someone well-versed in statistics. The conversation escalated quickly into a loud yelling argument, as he did not feel he was a boy of any kind and that word had racist overtones. Maybe the recent election means my song is on its way to being obsolete. I hope so.

— Suzanne Vega, Measure for Measure (2008-12-03): Which Side Are You On?

I singled this passage out because I wanted to note something about how the use of diminutives plays out here — what kind of lines get noticed here and what kind of lines get ignored, and what kind of words get a remark and what kind get a free pass. Of course, whatever the white woman may have intended — and I’m sure she didn’t think of what she was doing, and I’m sure she used that as part of an attempt to defend herself, but it’s actually part of the problem — racist overtones is a really mild way to describe the cultural freight that accompanies calling a grown Black man a boy. The man she was talking to was not a boy. And there’s a history there that makes it important not to forget certain things. But neither is she, a grown woman, a baby. And if you think there isn’t a history there that makes it important not to forget certain things, well, you need to think harder.

We don’t know what the man and the woman said in their fight so I have no way of knowing whether she allowed herself to be upset about that; I do know that if she did, Suzanne Vega didn’t think it was worth recording the fact that she did in retelling the story. I think it’s interesting what gets singled out as worthy of remark, what gets singled out as the sort of thing that somebody might be upset about and that might be imporant to understanding how a conversation could end up as a fight. And what gets dropped as beneath that sort of attention. I think that’s interesting. And I think that’s sad.