By A.F. James MacArthur, Managing Editor
When the case was called, like anyone else, I was a bit nervous. Going to court can be a stressful event as it is. But when the judge opened her mouth, and the first words from the bench to me were; "Are you friends with Ed Norris?" Shrugging my shoulders and looking at the ground, I had no idea how to answer this. Where was the Judge going with this?
Looking up, Judge Halee Weinstein cracked a smile and said; "you don't have to answer that." Sigh, what a relief. Being a fan of the controversial former Police Commissioner, turned talk show host, in this town, where so much is built upon guilt by association, you gotta really be careful or you could easily wind up being put away.
Being in court for a case so foolish it should have never even gotten to court. I was already pissed off and on edge.
A company car assigned to me was wrongfully impounded by Baltimore Police. With company check in hand, I went to Pulaski Highway.
If you've ever been to the impound, you know that this single location represents everything wrong with Baltimore City government. Inefficient staff. Poor customer service. Dilapidated facilities. Plus jacked up fees for service makes one feel he's just been violated after leaving. Many cases of impounded cars are clouded with fraud and criminal wrong doing. City employees, including cops, and unscrupulous private tow operators participate in a theft and payola scam.
With a background in criminal investigations and intelligence, I decided, since I must go to this awful place, why not do a quick piece on the customer service experience. My story has already been told, (see video), but I will quickly summarize.
While recording my story for later airing (see video), impound lot staff responded with hostility. I was quickly arrested and charged with trespassing. Officer Michael Maurice of the Baltimore Police Department, an officer with a long history of questionable arrests and disciplinary actions against him, even added to his report that I had no legitimate business there. Never mind the impounded car I came to retrieve, or the fact that I was a reporter, protected by the First Amendment, doing a story.
This piece of work never bothered to show up. In open court the prosecutor told the judge he left numerous messages for Maurice, but never heard back. CASE DISMISSED! Another innocent black man, arrested without cause in Baltimore City.
Spending time in that despicable place called Central Booking; the inhumane, callous, dehumanizing treatment received there, is enough to turn anyone into a domestic terrorist. To destroy a municipality that is crushingly oppressive, lacking concern for civil rights and true American justice is an option. Or, start a citizen/activist journalist revolution, cast a bright spotlight on the darkness of local government, and make sure they know their being watched!
Take a guess which one I picked.
After note; Judge Weinstein asked the State's Attorney if he verified whether or not I was an actual reporter. Never mind just one week ago, I was interviewing Mayor Sheila Dixon, why didn't she ask her? What about my interviewing Police Commissioner Bealefeld? Hey judge, in China, you need government approval and special permission to be a journalist. Look at the flag lately? This ain't China!
Multimedia journalist, A.F. James MacArthur produces and appears on a daily talk radio show, writes for several news websites under various pen names, and appears in regular video special reports and commentary.