Students end their protest at City Hall

May 16, 2008|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,Sun reporter

About 30 students from a tutoring and advocacy group continued to protest the mayor's proposed budget by pitching tents outside City Hall before deciding late last night to heed a police ultimatum to clear the area.

Dozens of high school and college students from the Baltimore Algebra Project have slept on the lawn since Tuesday. City police asked them to leave by 9 p.m. yesterday.

The students remained well past the deadline, chanting and waving signs asking for $3 million to help pay for Peer-to-Peer Enterprises, a mentoring program that Mayor Sheila Dixon has said should be funded through the city school system.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in yesterday's Maryland section incorrectly stated that Baltimore police ordered student protesters to leave the plaza outside City Hall on Thursday night. Sterling Clifford, a spokesman for city police and the mayor, said the protesters had violated a permit from the Department of Recreation and Parks, and it was park rangers and representatives from the city's emergency management agency who ordered the protesters to leave. There were no city police officers at the scene, Clifford said.
The Sun regrets the error.

Sterling Clifford, a spokesman for the Police Department and the mayor, said police wanted the students to leave because they had violated the terms of their protest permit, which ended at nightfall.

Shorty before 11 p.m., after police gave them a final 10-minute deadline, the students decided to move their tents to the Hollywood Diner nearby.

"It's really dangerous for them to be out here," said Clifford, who was at the scene.

Cherdaya Allen, 17, a junior at Western High School, said the students want a formal meeting with Dixon and will continue to protest until one is scheduled.

Students want the money to start an investment fund that would expand the Peer-to-Peer program.

Of the 20 youth groups participating in the program, about 10 pay at least a few students for their work.

The proposed investment fund, which would be overseen by a board with student and adult representatives and administered by the Baltimore Community Foundation, would make an expansion possible.

Groups would submit proposals for youth work that the board would be subject to the board's approval.

The $3 million would be used to hire 700 to 1,000 youths, who would serve 2,000 to 6,000 of their peers, the group estimates.

Clifford said the mayor has no plans to put the money in the budget.

Nicole Cheatham, 17, said the protests will get more intense until the program is funding by the city.

Dixon "is sleeping on us, so we're sleeping on her," Cheatham said. "Next we're going to do a hunger strike."

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