Advocates came out in full force to push Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young to do more to protect homeless people during the coronavirus pandemic, mounting a protest designed to capture media attention – and conform to the rules of social-distancing.
As Young stood in front of City Hall for his latest Covid-19 media briefing, Mark Council from Housing Our Neighbors stepped in front of the cameras, joined by other protesters carrying a sign that read “Homeless Can’t Stay Home.”
“We must put these people in permanent housing, not just hotels,” Council shouted. “You can’t fix the problem by housing people in a shelter or a school building.”
Young tried at first to talk over Council, but finally gave up and let him make his case, the same one they have been making for weeks since the outbreak struck:
A homeless man himself, Council said hundreds of other people in Baltimore are living on the street or in crowded shelters with no way to isolate themselves in order to avoid infection.
“Help us, Mayor Young, please!” he said.
After horn-honking protest, city officials say staffing issues prevent them from doing more.
Organizations representing deaf people in Baltimore and beyond are condemning Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young for stopping a deaf interpreter from relaying the words of a protester at the mayor’s Tuesday press conference outside City Hall.
“You interpret for us,” Young had said, cutting the interpreter off after he began signing the words of Mark Council, a homeless man who had interrupted the press briefing along with other activists.
The mayor’s words came after his spokesman, Lester Davis, rebuked the interpreter and a woman off-camera shouted, “He’s here to interpret for the mayor!”
The interpreter stood with hands clasped as Council went on for nearly three minutes, calling on Young to do more to protect homeless people from the coronavirus by getting them out of city shelters.
But deaf and hard-of-hearing people were not the only ones who experienced censorship at the event.
Virtually the entire homeless protest sequence – Council’s speech, the chiding of the interpreter, the horn honking – was edited out of the city’s official video of the mayoral briefing.
Jacob Leffler, a city resident who is deaf, had watched the protest on WBAL-TV’s Facebook live video, then found it missing from the YouTube version on CharmTV’s “Government” page.
“That made me angry and frustrated,” Leffler said. “It’s depriving the community of information.”
Also condemning the censorship was Housing Our Neighbors, the group which mounted the protest.
“The fact that the city would censor a homeless man making a life or death plea to house our city’s most vulnerable, shows where their values are,” said member Rachel Kutler, reading from a group statement.
Less than 20 minutes after The Brew’s inquiry, the edited video was removed and the full video restored.