Union pickets limited to 20

Court restricts protests over mall construction but not to extent sought

Injury probe adds reward

Officer was hurt by rock thrown by unidentified person

April 21, 2000|By TaNoah Morgan and Laura Barnhardt | TaNoah Morgan and Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge restricted yesterday the number of protesters allowed to picket the Arundel Mills construction site, limiting their ranks to no more than 20.

The injunction significantly reduces the level of activity of the Carpenters union Local 101, which last week staged a protest of about 200 people at the site with other unions, but it allows for more pickets than the four or five suggested by lawyers for mall contractor Whiting-Turner.

In a related matter yesterday, Anne Arundel County police announced a $3,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who hit a policeman with a thrown rock during an April 13 protest, knocking the officer unconscious.

The Fraternal Order of Police, the Anne Arundel County Sergeants Association and the department contributed $1,000 apiece.

"We're hoping this money will bring in some new information," said department spokesman Sgt. Joseph E. Jordan.

The late afternoon decision by Judge Ronald A. Silkworth came after he heard two days of arguments on the restraining order sought by the Towson contractor against the Carpenters union.

The union, along with other labor groups, was protesting the use of nonunion and out-of-state workers to construct the 1.2 million-square-foot mall in Hanover last week when protesters began throwing rocks at cars and Officer Martin Freeman was struck in the head, resulting in a two-day stay at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. Seven people were arrested -- three accused of disorderly conduct, three accused of throwing rocks and one accused of assaulting a policeman with a picket sign.

Union organizers testified Wednesday that there is no evidence protesters from the Carpenters union were responsible for Freeman's injuries.

Union members had agreed this week to halt protests until the judge rendered a decision.

Silkworth's order limiting the number of pickets also prohibited protesters from obstructing access routes to the job site and from videotaping license plates of people entering the construction area.

"The union is not pleased, but they will comply with the order," said Keith J. Zimmerman, who represented the union in the hearing.

Eric Hemmendinger, the lawyer representing Whiting-Turner, declined to comment on the case.

Freeman continues to experience swelling and pain, Jordan said.

It's unclear when Freeman will return to work.

Detectives haven't been able to determine who threw the rock. No witnesses have come forward, Jordan said, and the three accused of rock-throwing have not been tied directly to Freeman's injury.

Jordan said anyone calling in a tip may remain anonymous. However, the reward will be offered only for information that leads to both an arrest and conviction.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Patrick Ronaghan at 410-222-6155.

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