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Just another day in Remington

April 23, 2013

Contributing photographer Noah Scialom sends along the following note along with seven accompanying pictures…

With a slight chill in the air, in the still, not-quite-spring-weather this morning, I grabbed my cameras and coat and set off to take some pictures of a press conference in Remington. As I pulled up to the corner of Miles Ave and 26th St and parked on top of a sidewalk littered with broken cement and debris,  I crossed the street to where a mixed crowd of developers, city representatives and Remington residents were gathering around an empty podium in the middle of the street waiting for the house behind it to come crashing down in attempt to demonstrate the city’s “Vacants to Value” program “at Work!” Quite a nice photo op for a city busy making its comeback.

Miles is a typical Remington street, that is to say that it is actually an Avenue, but feels more like an alleyway, with a  small garden next to the home that is about to be demolished that looked like it could use the extra room for a few more vegetables. The crowd was excited for the show, and only a few seemed sad to see the house get torn down.

The street was quiet as we waited for the mayor (you can never be sure if she will show up), when suddenly a half dozen squad cars and black suburbans pulled  up to the corner, followed quickly by the deep diesel rumble of the Baltimore Police Tactical Unit’s SWAT truck — part armored war tank and part blue and black Batmobile. A plainclothes officer with wide eyes and his gun drawn  who seemed more than a little surprised at this group of 40 people assembled right where he does not want them to be. He flashed his badge at the crowd and yelled, “Get out of here, now!”

We thought it might all be a joke until officers, clad in body armor with pistols and automatic rifles drawn, poured out of the tank and flanked the confused crowd that expected the mayor and some awesome building demolition action, but instead got a paramilitary police assault. Wondering if a bomb is about to explode, I start snapping pictures and yelling “I’m with the press!” to police entirely uninterested in debating my constitutional right to take photographs wherever I damn well please.

As we were shoved away and I shot pictures of a panicked City Council President, officers stormed the house front and rear and the microphone was left languishing in the road. Someone kept asking if the police knew that a press conference was happening. The question went unanswered, but seemed to be a resounding “No.” Then, as quickly as it all began it ended. Speakers returned to the podium to thank the city for getting rid of that which is unsightly and dangerous, while the police were told to hide themselves inside the home of the recent arrestee while the press conference went on in the street like nothing ever happened.

Enjoy the pictures…

Click here for the Gallery