Councilman Scott,

I’m not entirely sure why you’d need a phone number to answer my question. It’s very simple and only requires a yes or no response.

Were you aware that the mayor’s office was going to use the Q&A time to give supporters of the curfew time to speak?

That’s it! Not much of a question. You can send me a quick “nope” on Twitter and be done with this whole discussion.

But since this isn’t twitter, if you have the time I’d like to ask for more details in the same direction - I’ll keep it to yes/no questions to save you time.

Did you know in advance of last night’s meeting that the mayor’s staff would:

  • start the meeting 15 minutes late, but finish on time so as to reduce the time available for questions?
  • direct the majority of questions to participants that were known supporters of the curfew who stated that they had no questions but rather wanted time to express their support for the curfew?
  • use tone-policing as an excuse to stop people with real concerns from being heard?
  • respond to questions about the curfew with anecdotes about supporting children and their feelings about growing up instead of concrete answers?
  • use all of these time-wasting tactics to run out the clock on the discussion?

I’d love to get your answers to those questions as well.

But while I have your ear, I’m also curious about some things you said last night. One that caught my attention was, “no one will go to jail for curfew violation.” Are you suggesting that none of the children who are going to be stopped, questioned, transported and detained by the police will be arrested? Even if they resist being transported? Even if they try to push an officer away?

I’m sure you’ve heard about the young lady in Clairton, Pennsylvania who was severely beaten by police in an attempt to restrain her while she sought to avoid being apprehended for a curfew violation. Will our children face this kind of violence if they run from the police? Our mayor was kind enough last night to explain that children’s brains aren’t fully developed and that they don’t always make good choices. That means we can expect a certain number of kids who aren’t up to any trouble to run from police. Kids will be more worried about their parents finding out they’re out than the consequences of running from the police. Given what we know about the use of force by Baltimore’s police, is there any reason not to think that this same situation will play out here?

In the interest of full disclosure, I want you to know that I have a vested interest in the answers to these questions. My son is 14 years old and he’s sweet, smart, and very kind. But he’s also tall and strong. (He could pretty easily pick up Commissioner Batts and throw him.) But the real problem is that he’s autistic, which means that he can’t communicate effectively with police officers. He acts unusually: he shouts, he jumps, he lunges and he has no understanding of personal space. At various times of his life he’s been prone to what the autism experts call “elopement,” but you or I would just say that he liked to run away. When he was small this wasn’t much of a problem, but now that he’s older and more capable, I worry that a boy big enough to look like a threat to a police officer who behaves in unpredictable ways will be poorly served by this curfew law.

Luckily for Jared, he’s as white as the brave policeman that Commissioner Batts introduced us to last night. White kids in Baltimore aren’t considered suspects for riding bicycles the way that black kids are. Also luckily, we live in a neighborhood much like Guilford where another frustrated participant pointed out you’re unlikely to see police patrolling. But even with all that, he’s still in danger from contact with the police. How can I keep him safe? Will the cops really be trained to deal with children? All sorts of children?

You know, it’s a shame I didn’t have time to ask these questions last night, what with the mayor’s office going of their way to prevent anyone from asking real questions. Do you know anything about that?

Thanks for your time,

Jemal Cole