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Police Sweep Broom Factory

September 3, 2013

Photo by Noah Scialom

People who were at the Scapescape afterparty at the Broom Factory Saturday night say the Baltimore Police came in hard, with “tasers clicking” and lots of attitude for the 30 or so people who had by then gathered. They arrested Andrew Gaddis (pictured), an organizer of the party and a leaseholder at the space, a haunt for artists and musicians at 2800 Sisson Street since late last year.

Unrelated to the Broom Factory office building in Canton, The Broom Factory Factory,  as its also known, is a warehouse in an industrial area whose Facebook page bills it as a “DIY arts space, recording studio, venue and whatever else . . .” It’s not zoned or permitted as a venue or club, so the events that have occurred there—featuring DJs, rappers, and other musicians often in a deliberately cross-racial setting—are not, strictly speaking, “legal.” Police broke up a July 1 show and apparently did not file a report about it. (“Broom Factory Raid Prompts Questions,” Mobtown Beat, July 10).

Emails to police about the latest action brought no response for two days.

Gaddis was charged with disorderly conduct and keeping disorderly house. It is his first brush with the law in Maryland. He is better known as an Open Society Institute grant recipient and co-founder of the Charm City Clinic, a McEldery Park-based non-profit operated by Hopkins students that connects people to medical services.

“I think we want to make it extremely clear that the more valuable work that we’re doing is trying to form a lasting relationship with someone, where we get to the root of their health issues and provide them with a long-term care solution,” Gaddis told the website in 2011. “Not just taking someone’s blood pressure, providing a medical service, and that’s it. I think that’s what sets us apart from most other established clinics and health care non-profits.”

Gaddis kept his Broom Factory Factory involvement separate from his medical work, not mentioning it on his Facebook page and going by the alias “Andrew Glorious” when dealing with Broom Factory matters.

In a Monday email to City Paper, Gaddis says:

We were having a private gathering after scapescape ended Saturday night. (To be clear- any press from scapescape listing the broom factory as an official part of the festival was due to a miscommunication and corrected as soon as it was noticed).

We hired off-duty police to ID at the door (BYOB gathering, so 21+) and ensure that the crowd was orderly. We were not charging admission or serving alcohol.

The police arrived and informed us that we required permits to host this gathering due to the number of people in attendance. I asked several questions about this but afterwards agreed to tell everyone to leave.

I was arrested for disorderly conduct on what must have stemmed from a miscommunication with a particular officer about my intentions to comply with making the guests leave. My understanding is that he felt I was not complying with this request.

I don’t agree with that assessment, and disagree with a number of the statements in the official police report, but I also understand that the officers have a stressful job, and am confident that these miscommunications will be resolved in the calmer environment of a courtroom.

Gaddis is scheduled for trial on September 19 in District Court on East North Avenue.

Others at the event used words like “jackboot” to describe the police officers’ actions. Noah Scialom (a contributing photographer for City Paper) says he arrived at the Broom Factory Factory about 1:35 a.m.  and spoke to off-duty police officers that the party organizers had hired to keep the party safe.  “I set them up at the top of the hill with instructions to not let any cars in, check that everyone was 21+ and to come get myself or Andrew if anything was needed,” Scialom writes in an email.

Minutes later he sees Gaddis hurry past and, knowing something was wrong, went outside to talk to the hired police. Those cops told Scialom there was nothing they could do: “there are ranking officers there and they seem to be on a mission.”

Many uniformed city police then marched down the hill “yelling and threatening people with arrest, tasers clicking,” Scialom says. “This black lady officer whom I asked what was happening to screams at me to CALM DOWN AND GET AWAY FROM ME. DO NOT STAND BEHIND ME.”

The pleasantries continued in that manner as police cleared the building and Gaddis came out in handcuffs. Scialom says he asked a Sergeant why Gaddis was being arrested and was told “that it was because Andrew had ‘lied to him’ and that we needed permits, and Officer G. M. Sullivan began to threaten to arrest me if I didn’t move, for Disobeying a Lawful Order. I asked him what the lawful order was, he said that it was to get out of his face.”

See photos from the raid here

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  • River Mud

    I’ve called 911 in the City 4 times in my 14 years here. The quickest response was about 35 minutes (arguably, long enough for several victims to die and for busloads of criminals to flee the scene), the slowest response was “no officer ever responded to my 911 call.” Now I see why – an important police focus on the dangerous threat of hipsters and their anti-racism, and their having parties without the appropriate parking permits.

  • River Mud

    Kind of like seeing four patrol cars and 8-9 officers at noon, running speed traps in Roland Park. Which actually happens.

  • River Mud

    File under “lessons learned.”

  • Allen Savage

    They can’t be on a block that has 2 shootings in 1 week, but they only come back when it’s time to pick up the 3rd body ?

  • Allen Savage

    Right !?

  • Allen Savage

    Hey, let’s stop cool people from having good time…

  • Thomas Brown

    Don’t piss off creative people. Oops too late. The real problem in this city isn’t a few dozen artists having a party, as has already been stated in the previous comments. This makes the Baltimore Police Department look like complete mo-mos (morons), but nothing will come from contacting the police or local government representatives to complain about the situation that unfolded. RIP America. Baltimore is a joke. This is absolutely not the kind of news the city and Station North want coming out about their precious arts and entertainment district. Too late though, like I say. The police in Baltimore have a mo-mo problem. They’re not all bad, but they have problems communicating with people, in that…you are not allowed to talk back to them, ie have a conversation with them. If you do, they think you are disobeying them or resisting arrest or whatever. Too heavy handed…makes people distrust them, makes people avoid places with bad energy.

  • ham_snadwich

    “Don’t the police have anything better to do?” is what white people say when they’re the ones getting arrested.

  • Baltimoooooore

    This raid happened so that the first raid in July (a rap show) would not look so racist. Both raids were complete wastes of time.