Last Thursday's amazing turnout for the launch of our Justice Task Force (see it all here) brought 400-plus participants on virtual media to engage with justice activists including Gabe Acevero, a member of the House of Delegates, and Maurice Mitchell of the Movement for Black Lives and the Working Families Party outline the paths to racial justice and policing for the people. And it was a conversation. See what the participants had to say on the chat panel in the virtual event -- it was anything but a passive audience. Check it all out here.


Progressive Maryland launched a Statewide Justice Task Force June 18 to address the issues of policing and systemic racism in Maryland.

They hosted an event, titled From Protest To Policy, with the Movement for Black Lives as a prelude to the Juneteenth weekend of action called Six Nineteen. Over 400 people from across the state joined in the virtual meeting and 200 more people viewed the recording on Facebook Live.

Progressive Maryland issued a statement against police brutality in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests around the state, around the country, and now around the world. They are supporting a set of statewide demands based on the principles by the Movement for Black Lives. The demands include ending mass incarceration, ending the war on drugs, defunding policing, addressing the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights, and funding Black communities.

“Black lives have been oppressed for the past 400 years and this is us just getting started on working toward justice” says Larry Stafford, Executive Director of Progressive Maryland. “We plan to hold each and every one of our government systems and institutions in Maryland accountable for the very real physical and psychological harms they have caused our Black communities. It is not enough to put new programs in place moving forward, we must right our wrongs against those who have been unjustly targeted by a corrupt system, starting with policing.”

Through its Statewide Justice Task Force, Progressive Maryland has plans to

  • support policies on rehabilitation, harm reduction and decriminalization;
  • call on Governor Hogan to release those who tested positive for COVID-19 in all state and county jails and detention centers to medical facilities as well as all remaining at risk populations;
  • support increased funding for re-entry programs for those returning from incarceration;
  • support the creation of a robust housing relief fund to help residents impacted by COVID-19 pay down rent and mortgage debt;
  • work toward institutional divestment from and defunding of all police forces across the state;
  • support the creation of community led public safety programs such as dispatching trained, unarmed professionals on non-criminal matters;
  • have the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill Of Rights be amended;
  • ensure that Governor Hogan’s vetoes of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and funding to Historically Black Colleges and Universities get an override;
  • and support increased funding for overall healthcare, housing and education for Maryland’s Black communities.

Progressive Maryland is training leaders around the state to join in on their organizing strategy to see the success of their demands. “We need to address the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill Of Rights under the Maryland Code of Public Safety”, says Jennifer Mendes Dwyer, Director of Development & Policy at Progressive Maryland. “We are demanding that this Officer’s Bill of Rights be immediately replaced with a legal system that requires transparency and protects the public from state violence and corruption.”

Progressive Maryland led the Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability following the murder of Freddie Grey. During the 2016 State Legislative Session, the Coalition successfully passed an omnibus bill creating greater transparency in policing.


The activists from all over the state were not a passive audience. From every corner – Garrett County to Elkton, Prince Frederick to Frederick, and into the Shore – there was a reportback. They heard heard Del. Gabe Acevero and Maurice Mitchell of the Working Families Party lay out the program. And the activists responded. Here is a selection from the Zoom chat:  news and questions, solidarity and plans going forward, county by county – and lots of resource links.

  • war on drugs=slave economy reloaded
  • THIS IS the NEW RECONSTRUCTION!! WE MUST ACTIVATE while there is solidarity and willingness to listen and be woke!
  • As we know from Prince George’s, Democratic is not equal to Progressive. We have no one except Democrats in sight.  And look at where we are.
  • Some next steps for residents of a Prince George’s County is a fresh injection of leadership in County leadership. You should SIGN the CHARTER AMENDMENT PETITION to Restore County Council Term Limits TODAY !!!!
  • Yes defund the police and put more money in education, social programs, housing, health care, and dental care. These are progressive values that we must fight at the local, state, and federal law.
  • Calling for divesting of resources is more palatable to many than defunding the police. Monies that have been pouring into militarization of police departments need to be spent elsewhere.
  • If you are in PG County please sign the petition to remove armed officers from our schools. The goal is that they are replaced with mental health services, behavior specialist and academic supports.
  • Redesigning the infrastructure of the Criminal Justice Facilities to promote a more Humane environments and sentencing reforms.
  • YES, repeal LEOBR
  • And a link for Progressive Maryland’s demands as expressed in our blog post:
  • The best place to provide Reentry programs or a Reentry Dorm Model to allow Returning Citizens the opportunity to be equipped for success upon their reintegration process, is while they are incarcerated. To provide Introduction to computers, resume writing, motivational interviewing, Parenting, relationship building, money management, etc. etc.
  • Support any legislation that increases funding for community behavioral health professionals and support for their work.
  • Delegate Acevero: Will you work to give Baltimore control of its own police department?  We are the only community in the state--possibly in the nation--that does not have authority of its police department.
  • Sorry to be a stuck record BUT, public financing for delegates and senators. And no [Central Committee] appointments for vacancies - only elections - keep the seat vacant until the election.
  • How can we change the messaging so we’re focusing on what we need to invest in. As important as The #defundpolice campaign, it’s polarizing and could be a barrier for people who misunderstand the sentiment
  • Maryland has received at least $11,077,495.00 in [Pentagon] equipment since the beginning of the [surplus military equipment to police] program. Details by county at this web site showing 1033 purchases in MD:
  • "Reform Maryland's [Law Enforcement] Officers' Bill of Rights (LEOBR)." By Susan Goering, ACLU MD,
  • Bad cops should not be able to go to other jurisdictions or go to work in prisons either where many of them go.
  • Frederick County Progressives is collaborating with the NAACP, RISE and SURJ.
  • Would love to see action against Qualified Immunity from Congress since SCOTUS dropped the ball.
  • this is powerful. thank you all for incredible advocacy want to also add police terror behind the walls and the PG County Jail. lawsuit re COVID-19
  • Yesterday's WAPO had an article where PG Cty Council members said they didn't support Defund Police but rather measured reform. Isn't this a good time for PG County residents to call their council members to say ----- TO THE CONTRARY, WE NEED TO DEFUND POLICE and...…. talking points would be great.
  • Defund? Here's how. Stop thinking of public safety as maintenance of order and start thinking of it as harm reduction. Examine what kind of harms we send cops out to deal with and figure out different ways of reducing them.
  • Write your feelings about these issues on the Progressive Maryland blog (see -- send your blogs to [email protected], the blog moderator.
  • Re-entry Summit July 8:
  • Re-entry Town Hall July 9:



woody woodruff


M.A. and Ph.d. from University of Maryland Merrill College of Journalism, would-be radical, sci-fi fan... retired to a life of keyboard radicalism...