Baltimore defunds schools, funds youth jail

PPA says: ‘Jobs & education, NOT YOUTH JAILS,’ at Baltimore City’s Juvenile Justice Center, May 16.WW photo: Joseph Piette

PPA says: ‘Jobs & education, NOT YOUTH JAILS,’ at Baltimore City’s Juvenile Justice Center, May 16.
WW photo: Joseph Piette

Baltimore — The Maryland Board of Public Works unanimously decided on May 13 to spend $30 million for the construction of a new youth jail facility in Baltimore. It was soon announced that $11 million had been cut from funding for education in Baltimore. Coming right after the rebellion of Baltimore youth against police killings, these decisions concretely show the state of Maryland’s and the ruling class’ priorities.

On April 25 and 27, Baltimore’s oppressed youth finally said, “Enough is enough!” and militantly fought back against the capitalist state. They smashed and burned cop cars; they took what they needed to live from stores; several police officers reported broken bones.

This militant struggle has terrified Baltimore’s ruling class, which has used every trick to restore “order” in the city. First the National Guard was called in, as a threat and show of force. Then there was the decision to charge the six officers; this was a clear concession by the state, which feared further militant protests if police were obviously unpunished. While Baltimore’s ruling class wants the people to believe that the current system can handle and address their needs, the approval of this new budget shows what they really plan.

The city and state officials all understand that regardless of the outcome in the case of Freddie Grey, the basic policy of the police in the U.S. will not change under the current system. They understand that more people will be murdered, and, increasingly, more people will fight back. While they will talk about “Black-on-Black crime,” drug use and other things unrelated to the rebellion, it is no coincidence that they are building a jail for young people right after a major uprising of people who were almost entirely under the age of 30. The ruling class is saying loud and clear that both austerity and repression are here to stay, regardless of the words of any individual politicians.

What the youth of Baltimore need right now is amnesty for any charges related to the rebellion, as well as increased investment into the most poor and oppressed communities in Baltimore. That means funding quality education, recreation centers, health care, suitable housing and jobs with a livable wage. Youth do not need an increased presence of police to terrorize them, nor more jails to lock them away.

When a people are left without any decent jobs, without the education required to get jobs (if they existed), without other basic necessary services — and all they are left with is police and jails — they will demand systemic change. If the city and state governments continue down this path of austerity, they will be sowing the seeds of future rebellions.