Baltimore protest hits Pence, racist attacks on voting rights

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When Vice President Mike Pence announced an Aug. 26 visit to Fort McHenry in Baltimore, the Peoples Power Assembly called for a protest march and car caravan with the message, “Trump/Pence out of Baltimore!” 

Pence chose the location to give his acceptance speech after being nominated for a second term as vice president during the Republican National Convention. More than 20 cars gathered in South Baltimore to begin the first leg of the protest.

At Fort McHenry, demonstrators were blockaded and confronted by the Secret Service. Alongside the Baltimore Police Department, the Secret Service forcibly redirected the caravan away from where Pence was speaking. One organizer reported being flipped off by Baltimore cops while leading chants. 

The caravan and march took place just three days after police in Kenosha, Wis., shot Jacob Blake in the back in front of his three children, paralyzing him from the waist down. Marchers demanded justice for Blake and an end to racist police terror.

At the opening rally at Douglas Homes, a public housing project in East Baltimore, protesters sent a strong solidarity message from Baltimore City to Jacob Blake, his family and loved ones, and the demonstrators in Kenosha being attacked by the cops and right wingers.

Longtime activist the Rev. Annie Chambers exclaimed: “We want Jacob Blake and his family and all the people in Kenosha to know that we are behind them and we’re going to continue to fight!”

Rev. Chambers remarked on the outright racism of Trump and Pence, including Trump’s 2019 comments calling Baltimore “rat-infested.” 

She described the administration’s attack on the U.S. Postal Service as an attack on poor people: “Mail is slowing down in working-class and poor people’s communities. The mail boxes are being taken up in our communities.”

Trump admitted that he would sabotage the post office to prevent universal mail-in voting amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The march and caravan then headed to a post office to show support for postal workers, demanding, “Shut down racist voter suppression, not the post office.” Marchers stopped in front of a loading dock where workers were loading trucks and gave a brief rap showing support for their jobs.  

Peoples Power Assembly organizers explained that the White House attack on the post office is an attack on Black and Brown people, poor and oppressed people, and elderly and disabled people. 

Organizer Andre Powell told the group that these attacks were another attempt at union busting. There are several unions that represent postal workers, including the American Postal Workers Union and the National Association of Letter Carriers.

The caravan and march were well-received by the people along the way, even in the neighborhoods in South Baltimore around Fort McHenry, which, 40 years ago, were working-class neighborhoods. Now they are overtaken by gentrification and overpriced luxury condos. Residents left their homes to film the demonstration and raise their fists in solidarity. 

Baltimore made it clear: Black lives matter here, and racist rats Trump and Pence are not welcome.