CP photographer arrested in Coward Shoe raid
UPDATES: Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton (@justin_fenton) tweeted out the “Statement of Probable Cause” against Scialom, and it seems to contradictorily describe him as “in the vestibule” and blocking “the narrow sidewalk” at the same time, and also notes that Scialom was found with “suspected marihuana” during booking (Scialom did not initially disclose this to CP). Fenton also tweeted: “Why did city cops bust up the Coward Shoe party? They say organizers were operating as an illegal “bottle club” in violation of state law.”
Just before midnight on Saturday, November 1, police raided a concert at Summa (formerly Coward Shoe; 322 Howard St.), which was to feature Ed Schrader, Roomrunner, White Life, and Uplift Mofos covering other artists. During Uplift Mofos’ set, police rushed in, clearing out the venue, and arrested City Paper contributing photographer Noah Scialom. The raid comes after two previous raids of another DIY venue, the Broom Factory, prompting more questions about a police crackdown on such spaces. Here is Scialom’s account of the raid.
I drove to the Coward Shoe cover show at approximately 11:30 pm on Friday, November 1. Upon walking up to the party, I noticed two police cars sitting on Howard St, one with lights slowly flashing red and blue. I proceeded to walk inside and observed one police officer talking to someone who seemed to be an organizer of the party. I went ahead to pay, but the people taking money let me go up for free, and I was told to just pay later. I was on the second floor (one floor below the band) saying hi to friends, when I noticed the same police officer was now walking around, talking on the radio.
There were no announcements to leave, and people were still mingling, however I assumed that at any moment the party would end. I then went upstairs to hear the music because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen or how much longer they would be allowed to play, and before even finishing their set, the band announced to the crowd that the police were there and that everyone had to leave, the party was over. People began to disperse, I gave my giant styrofoam skull to a friend, and began taking photos in earnest. I went to the staircase and took a few frames of people leaving. I could hear noise above me and went back up a few steps and took pictures of police officers yelling at people who were not leaving fast enough. A police officer in the stairwell shoved my camera away from my face, I advised him not to touch me, and that I am a member of the press working for the Baltimore City Paper. They heard me and continued to order me to leave. As I began to walk down the stairs and continued to take photos, one Police officer grabbed my upper arm and forcefully led me down,and I stumbled down the few remaining steps. As the officer shoved me out the door, he proclaimed confusingly to “get your monkey ass outta here.” I walked out of Summa to the sidewalk and continued to take photos of people leaving the party.
At this point, Sgt. Wilson (whose name I later got from his badge), who had been standing just outside the doors, was directing people to leave. I continued to take photos and had stopped walking once I reached the sidewalk. I consciously said to myself that I am a safe, because I am on public property. Sgt. Wilson was moving about, telling people to leave, standing about five feet away from me. I took a few quick photos of him (including the one here), understanding from his rather tense jaw that he did not like it. He said nothing directly to me. I turned to my left and took another photograph of an officer standing by the fence, at which point I was, without warning, violently taken to the ground by Sgt. Wilson and my camera flew from my hand and bounced on the pavement. A knee was jabbing me in the back, and Sgt. Wilson was screaming for me to stop resisting as I lay there covered in police. I saw CP web editor and photographer Joe Giordano pick up my camera, and I told him to keep shooting. I was cuffed and on the ground surrounded by police and partygoers, then was picked up by a different police officer who roughly moved me toward the paddy-wagon and then shoved me inside after opening the doors. It was empty. This police officer then drove from the parking lot to the middle of the street. He left me alone in the wagon, and I started taking pictures from my cellphone and uploaded one photo to Instagram to make my ordeal public. I also texted a friend for a lawyer’s phone number, figuring I would probably need it to get out of jail.
The officer quickly drives off as I slide around into the metal frame of the wagon. At some point we stop and as he opened the door, I began to walk out thinking we were at the police station. He climbs in and pushes me back so that I fall on my handcuffed wrists to grab at my pocket for my phone, angrily saying “give me your phone.” Our next stop is at Central District. He tells me to get out. He pulls me in the door, tells me to have a seat on the bench, which I do. I was then handcuffed to the bench which further restricted my movement. I wait, talk to a few officers, and eventually Sgt. Wilson shows up. He asked if I was injured, suggesting that if I wasn’t then he would let me go. If I claimed that if I was injured, then I would be going to jail. Sgt. Wilson tells me this as another police officer who looks like a fat Chandler from Friends listens and writes down the official arresting report. I asked him if bruises and pain counted as injuries, and he says that now I am going to jail for being a smartass. I informed him that it was his choice.
About 20 minutes later, they put me in flex cuffs pulled extremely tightly (“cuffs aren’t made for comfort,” Sgt. Wilson informed me), and into another wagon driven by a female officer who takes me to Central Booking. After ten minutes of sitting in the male intake room another arrestee kicks me in my left shoulder. Everyone saw it and two correctional officers led him outside where he continued to kick the door screaming that he was going to kill all of us. When the CO goes to cut off my flexcuffs, he takes one look at my wrists and says “Damn.” and to my great relief cuts me free. I am then fingerprinted, processed, officially charged with “disobeying a lawful order,” and led into a room with nine other men where we are left to our own devices until morning. At 10am I was let out into a beautiful November morning with a court date to look forward to and a stroll back to Summa to pick up my van and go home.
See a gallery of the raid here.