The Baltimore City Council confirmed Kevin Davis Monday as the city’s 38th police commissioner, and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake swore him in. But none of it happened without protest.
Minutes after the vote, protestors began chanting, “No justice, no peace” and “if we don’t get it, shut it down.”
Police escorted the protestors out of City Hall, but Council President Jack Young told them not to arrest anyone “as long as they are orderly.”
The protesters, who have sent a list of demands to Davis and the mayor, marched through downtown streets before settling at McKeldin Square. Officers tried to keep them on the sidewalk along the way.
Some had been in the council chambers as the vote took place, but others were in an overflow room watching a video feed of the council meeting. Young had ordered the balcony they had occupied last week during a committee hearing on Davis closed due to “safety concerns.”
Lester Davis, spokesman for Young, said the closure had been planned since September after several people were injured while sitting in chairs that broke.
The council voted 12-2 to remove the interim from Davis’ job title. Councilmen Nick Mosby and Carl Stokes voted against the confirmation. Councilwoman Helen Holton was absent.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake wasted no time swearing Davis in; doing so moments after the vote just before a public safety forum in Park Heights.
Davis’ contract is expected to go before the Board of Estimates. He will be paid $200,000 a year to finish the term of Anthony Batts, who was fired earlier this year. His contract would run through 2020; four years after Rawlings-Blake, who is not running for re-election, leaves office.
Davis Met With Protesters Before Vote
Davis and protesters met Sunday to discuss their list of demands.
Adam Jackson, with Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, said the meeting with the commissioner went well, but he accused Davis of not publicly committing to changing his stance on “treating protests as protests and rioters as rioters.”
He said the students wanted a press release or a public statement that from Davis saying he would “commit to changing policy of the police department in regards to peaceful protest.”
But he “didn’t do that,” Jackson said.
Davis acknowledged that he met with protesters and went over their demands, but he declined to say whether he agreed to any specific demands.
“I don’t want to have a public debate about what we discussed,” he said. “We talked about a lot of mutual concerns we agreed upon.”
Earlier in the day, Davis said in a statement he has taken steps “to ensure a better flow of communication” with protesters and looks forward “to a constructive and productive relationship moving forward.”
Mayor Rawlings-Blake said the concerns of the protesters have been heard, but remains “confused” about their wanting to meet with her.
“While they were camping out at City Hall I was having a public forum across the street; we could have had a conversation there,” she said.