BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City Council is one step closer to eliminating gag orders by law in police brutality settlements.

The executive order by Mayor Jack Young last week said the City will not stop a settlement recipient from telling their story.

But, activists said it doesn’t stop the City from putting in so-called ‘gag orders’ into settlements.

Dozens on Monday urged Baltimore City Council to go beyond a recent executive order.

“How do you heal from things you don’t get to talk about?” a public commenter said.

“What is a civil servant if they silence the people that they serve?” Another added.

Mayor Jack Young eased restraints on settlement recipients from speaking but critics said it needs to go further and be made into law.

“When our city puts gag orders on these citizens, they are further victimized,” A public commenter said.

“If you’re implying NDA’s aren’t going to be enforced, why include them in settlements in the first place?” Another said.

The City’s lawyer, Andre Davis said Wednesday morning the language in settlements amounts to a non-disparagement agreement where both sides agree to not defame the other.

“None of this is unusual, Mr. President. This is the way lawsuits have been settled for hundreds of years,”

The Board of Estimates approved another excessive force settlement this one for $75,000.

The council advanced the legislation this week, to end the practice, a bill the City’s law department opposes.

“Once you file suit against Baltimore City, guess what? Baltimore City is going to defend itself, as long as I’m city solicitor,” Davis said.

“Mr. Solicitor, you’re right that we have to make sure these things aren’t happening and we have to defend, but we also have to understand that the wrongdoings have happened through City employees,” said City Council President Brandon Scott.

Davis said Wednesday that under the executive order, settlement recipients can tell their stories publicly, but in some cases can not disparage the City while they do that.

The council’s bill moves to the Public Safety Committee next week.

Paul Gessler

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