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Occupy Baltimore Protesters Attend Mayor’s Budget Workshop

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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s been six weeks since Occupy Baltimore was kicked out of McKeldin Square downtown.

Now, as Mike Schuh reports, their promise to be more visible in how the city is governed is causing some unease downtown.

Occupy Baltimore was a force to be reckoned with. They raised awareness and after being removed, pledged to have a voice in Baltimore politics. Saturday, they got their chance.

“[Our priorities are] children, education,” said protester Kim Trueheart.

Nearly half the people at the mayor’s budget workshop were from Occupy Baltimore, there to be a part of citizen input.

“We’re giving people the chance to be heard and put themselves in my shoes,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

But this was a bit different. When the mayor interacts with residents, her security detail is near but Saturday, uniform officers, tactical and other commanders, patrolmen on foot and in cars, plus those inside added up to a much larger presence than normal.

“It’s an unfortunate reality and historically, there’s always been a back and forth. As citizens exercise power, we’re challenging power,” said protester Mike McGuire.

So why were there so many police officers?

“You’d have to ask the police department,” Rawlings-Blake said.

Their chief spokesman said, “We send officers to all demonstrations. We’d rather have too many people there than too few.”

No problems arose…other than how to erase a projected $52 million budget shortfall.

This was the last of the mayor’s open meetings. Her budget plan goes to the Board of Estimates in late March.

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