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A few weeks ago, as I walking down Charles Street I witnessed the tail end of a verbal altercation between a Baltimore City Police Officer and a transgender woman. The woman had clearly been angered by something the officer did, and was shouting at him. In order to shut the woman down, the officer pointedly and dismissively repeated “Have a nice day, SIR!” with clear emphasis on the word “sir”. I was so flabbergasted watching this, I didn’t know what to do, but when I happened to make eye contact with the offending officer, I simply shouted “That’s not nice!” I know I should have done more, but I was very taken aback. As someone who is gradually embracing a genderfluid identity, this was a very discouraging thing to witness.
I was just walking to [art store] in Mid-Town Belvedere when I got hit on twice in a row. There’s this little alleyway off of Tyson St that I walked through to get to Chase St and [art store]. There’s a small, empty warehouse there and today I noticed the door was open. As I am walking past and about to turn onto Chase, there’s also an open window in the warehouse that I glance at as I pass. Then a man’s voice comes from inside the building and says “I love you”. I speed up and as I turn the corner I can hear that he’s following me from inside the building because he keeps saying “I love you” and knocking on the glass. [Art store] is right there so I kept going and just hoping that he wont come out of the building (and already planning on leaving in the opposite direction to avoid him on my way back). About 1 minute later, right as I arrive at [art store], this other guy passes me and says “damn, you so sexy!”. I stayed in [art store] for what I hoped was a long enough time and took a longer way back to avoid the guy in the warehouse… so creepy!!!
I decided to leave the rally on Penn-North and head home through the metro. I got off at the State Center stop and it looked pretty much like a ghost town. My boyfriend called, I answered, but I couldn’t focus. I got this sinking feeling in my stomach. There were tanks lined up to the side of the State Center parking. Feeling a bit tense, I kept walking and attempted conversation with my bf. Then I noticed a group of state troopers, all men (all with guns), chilling to the side of one of the cars. They were all laughing, and I noticed that they all noticed me (in a way that felt like a full body scan, one of them pointed in my direction-the rest casually looked away laughing to themselves.) My resting bitch face on, I kept walking until one of them stepped out of the crowd and puts his hand up as if to say “halt.” I came to a full stop. He coughed, with a feigned serious tone, said something I didn’t quite catch. I asked, “what was that?” He laughed and said “I said…you’re not allowed to walk and talk on the phone.” They all laughed, I rolled my eyes and walked past them. Then there were more state troopers, all men, sitting on the wall along the pathway. It felt like a second body scan. As they looked me up and down, I sent them a furious glare (lip curled, brows scrunched.) I didn’t even feel comfortable saying something like I usually would. I saw a couple state troopers that were women at the end of the street, but they seemed completely separated from both groups (probably with good reason.) The closer I got to the intersection the more I could breathe. Black women go missing everyday without so much as an ounce of outrage I felt at the rally earlier. I’ll never understand how people can feel comforted by men with guns filling the streets. It’s just one more thing to make me dread the walk home.
Dear Hollaback! Baltimore Supporters,
Hollaback! Baltimore stands in solidarity with the community members and activists of Baltimore during this very difficult time. Our thoughts are with Freddie Gray’s family as they mourn the loss of their loved one and search for answers.
Our thoughts are also with the families of Mia Hall, Tyrone West, Rekia Boyd, Eric Garner, Tanisha Anderson, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Anthony Anderson, Tamar Rice and many others who’ve lost their lives due to police encounters.
Protesting represents the language of the unheard and it stems from systematic oppression among marginalized members of our society. We believe social justice means participating in open dialogues where we listen to each other and make safe spaces available.
Despite the national spotlight on Baltimore, we demand justice and fairness for all those targeted by injustice. Let us continue to work together as a community to reform, reorganize, and rebuild power systems that are currently doing more harm than good.
We love our city of Baltimore. We honor the memories of those we’ve lost and aim to protect the lives of those we have so that we may live together in a diverse, loving, and understanding world.
The pursuit of justice is not complete until every human being — regardless of who they are — is treated with dignity and respect. Yes, #BlackLivesMatter.
Brittany Oliver and Leah Michaels
Co-Directors of Hollaback! Baltimore
I was walking home from grabbing coffee this morning when a man crossed the street as soon as he saw me and asked “how are you doing friend?”
I avoided eye contact, said I was doing Fine and kept walking. He caught up to me and asked if I had a lover I was going to hang out with today. I told him that was none of his business. He said he just wanted my number, and I told him No, I’m not interested. He continued to walk next to me and ask where I was going -which I also told him was none of his business. I walked directly past my house but didn’t go in because I don’t want him to see where I live. He continued to walk next to me and tell me he just wanted to get to know me and listed several reasons I should get to know him. I continued to tell him I wasn’t interested and that I just wanted to be alone. Since he continued to walk next to me, I asked what direction he was going and told him I was going the opposite way at the intersection. I walked around a few blocks and made sure he wasn’t in sight before I turned back and went home.
I was summonsed to jury duty on April 1st. Something no one really enjoys. I stood in the security line with everyone else and put my purse in the x-ray machine and then moved it to the desk of the next security guard. He stared at me for the longest time without saying anything. I asked if he needed to look into my purse and he did not say anything and then I stepped under the metal detector. He just continued to stare at me. Then he said, “I know you have a pretty smile.” Uh! Really? I didn’t say anything and sort of made a face as I grabbed my things and began to walk away from him. “There it is,” he said. Even as the co-director of an organization that focuses on ending street harassment, and have experienced and heard countless stories, I was shocked and so freaking annoyed at this experience. Here is a tip security guard, maybe focus on your job and not my mouth. Then I actually got picked to serve on what would turn out to be a four day murder case so that did not help the situation.
I was walking to the light rail at 4:30 in the afternoon. A large group of male adolescents were passing as I turned the corner. One of the boys grabbed my ass. I turned and told him he had no right to touch me. Instead of apologizing, another of the boys grabbed my chest and laughed. When I told them that I was going to call the police, proceeded to hold me as they rifled through my pockets, forced me to the ground, called me names, and stole my house keys and phone before running off . There were people around. No one tried to help me. I’ve been mugged before, I don’t care about stolen stuff, but I have to admit being touched against my will has me very upset. I’m not sorry I spoke up, I’m just sorry that these kids are a product of an environment that makes them feel so entitled to another person’s body and things.
Is “creepy” an option?? This guy was sitting in Mt Vernon Square today and hitting on LITERALLY every woman who walked by. Shortly after I sat down, he got up and (I thought) left. A few minutes later, though, he walked back over and he was looking straight at me and smiling.
It was one of those situations where I couldn’t really hear what he was saying, but I could feel someone staring at me and felt uncomfortable. I chanced a few looks in his direction and he would be staring at me and I could hear that he was talking (but again I couldn’t hear exactly what he said). My suspicions were confirmed when I saw him motioning to another girl to “come over” and she looked away quickly. Right after that, he yelled loudly so that another girl looked at him. I was the only one left when I decided to leave the park and the talking got really loud. When I took the photo of him, he looked right at me. Looked away when I actually took the pic though. When I had almost left the park, I looked over and he’d gotten up so I had to run back to work in case he was deciding to follow me.