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Abandoned factories tagged with graffiti. Vacant properties marked by broken windows and overgrown lawns. This hour, we consider the impact of urban blight on communities and hear how some local municipalities are working to improve quality of life.

We check in with the cities of Waterbury and Hartford, where significant strides have been made to survey and address blight.

We also talk with Laura Bliss of CityLab and with a housing official in Baltimore. How effective has the Maryland city’s Vacants to Value program been at reducing the number of vacant, blighted properties? We find out. 

Magicpiano / Wikimedia Commons

Abandoned factories tagged with graffiti. Vacant properties marked by broken windows and overgrown lawns. This hour, we consider the impact of urban blight on communities and hear how some local municipalities are working to improve quality of life.

We check in with the cities of Waterbury and Hartford, where significant strides have been made to survey and address blight.

We also talk with Laura Bliss of CityLab and with a housing official in Baltimore. How effective has the Maryland city’s Vacants to Value program been at reducing the number of vacant, blighted properties? We find out. 

Updated at 8:16 p.m. ET

Maryland's second-highest court has ruled that Adnan Syed, whose murder conviction served as a subject for the hit podcast Serial, deserves a new trial. The decision issued Thursday by the Court of Special Appeals upheld a lower-court ruling that Syed's counsel in his original murder trial was deficient and ineffective.

Updated at 5:05 p.m. ET

Two students were injured when another student opened fire at Great Mills High School in St. Mary's County, Md., according to the local sheriff. The shooter, identified by the sheriff as 17-year-old Austin Wyatt Rollins, was confirmed dead after being taken to a hospital.

Even in a bean bag chair, 15-year-old Michelle sits up straight. With her hands on her knees, she looks down at the ground, smiling as she talks about her dreams of being a writer and a military doctor.

As a high school freshman, Michelle is already accomplishing a lot: She's president of the student government association at the International High School at Langley Park. She also writes for the school newspaper and plays basketball. To protect her privacy, we're only using using her first name.

A Baltimore judge has found Lt. Brian Rice, the fourth of six Baltimore police officers to go on trial in the death of Freddie Gray last year, not guilty of involuntary manslaughter. That's the most serious charge Rice had faced; he was also cleared of lesser charges.

Months after he was granted a new hearing because of new evidence, Adnan Syed, whose 2000 murder conviction was a key focus of the hit podcast Serial, has been granted a new trial, according to his attorneys.

Baltimore City Circuit Judge Martin Welch vacated Syed's conviction, saying in a memorandum that his attorney "fell below the standard of reasonable professional judgment" in handling his case.

Announcing the news Thursday, attorney Justin Brown tweeted in all-caps: "WE WON A NEW TRIAL FOR ADNAN SYED!!!"

A Baltimore court has acquitted Officer Caesar Goodson of second-degree murder and all other charges in a case related to the death of Freddie Gray.

Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died from a spinal cord injury sustained while in police custody last year.

Goodson drove the van that transported Gray after his arrest. Gray apparently sustained the fatal injury during that van ride, during which he was handcuffed, shackled and not wearing a seat belt. The incident sparked protests and riots in Baltimore and raised questions about police negligence.

A second trial related to the death of Freddie Gray opens Thursday in Baltimore, where police Officer Edward Nero faces multiple misdemeanors in connection with the case.

Gray died April 19, 2015, after suffering a broken neck while in police custody — specifically, while being transported in a police van, medical examiners found. The following month, prosecutors announced charges against six police officers in connection with Gray's death.

One day after jurors in the trial of Baltimore Police Officer William Porter announced they were deadlocked, the judge in the case has declared a mistrial. The jury couldn't reach a verdict on involuntary manslaughter and three other charges Porter faced over the death of Freddie Gray last April.

On the second day of deliberations in the trial of a Baltimore police officer who's accused of involuntary manslaughter and other charges in the death of Freddie Gray, the jury sent a note to the judge saying they're deadlocked.

Judge Barry G. Williams instructed the jurors to keep working toward a verdict after receiving that note Tuesday afternoon, reports NPR's Jennifer Ludden. The panel began its deliberations in the trial of Officer William Porter on Monday afternoon. They have adjourned their second session and will return to the jury room Wednesday morning.

About seven months after Baltimore was rocked by a night of riots, the first police officer implicated in Freddie Gray's death is being put on trial.

As NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports, the case is being closely watched in the city, and residents believe that a lot is at stake.

Baltimore Police arrested a dozen demonstrators who had remained inside City Hall through the early morning.

The protest began last night during a hearing on the permanent appointment of Baltimore Police Interim Commissioner Kevin Davis. As the AP reports, the activists don't want the city council to move forward with the appointment before a series of demands — including changes to police tactics and investments in education — are met.

Yusuf Syed

Adnan Syed, who was convicted for murder in 2000, and whose case was the subject of the podcast Serial, was granted a post-conviction hearing in a court order released Monday.

On WNPR's The Colin McEnroe Show, attorney Rabia Chaudry spoke about the development, which came sooner than Syed's legal team expected.

Baltimore police seem to ignore injuries suffered by detainees by the hundreds.

That's according to a review of records by The Baltimore Sun.

According to a report published by the paper this weekend, from June 2012 through April 2015, the Baltimore City Detention Center refused 2,600 detainees brought in by police because they were injured.

The federal investigation into Baltimore's police force is one of the first steps some in the city believe will rebuild the relationship between officers and residents.

Some faith leaders are optimistic that can be done, and past police programs have helped. But other residents are skeptical that West Baltimore residents' trust can be regained.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced today that she was lifting a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in the city imposed nearly a week ago amid civil unrest over the death of Freddie Gray from injuries sustained in police custody.

"I want to thank the people of Baltimore for their patience," she said.

The emergency curfew was put in place after riots that took place in West Baltimore on Monday.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET

Hundreds in Baltimore began a "victory rally" to celebrate a decision by the city's top prosecutor to charge six officers in connection with the death of Freddie Gray, the young black man who died from a spinal injury he sustained in police custody.

The rally began at 2 p.m. in the West Baltimore neighborhood where Gray lived and was making its way to City Hall.

The death of Freddie Gray was a homicide, and six Baltimore police officers now face criminal charges that include second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, Baltimore chief prosecutor Marilyn J. Mosby says.

Mosby announced the charges Friday morning, citing her office's "thorough and independent" investigation and the medical examiner's report on Gray's death. She said warrants were issued Friday for the officers' arrest.

The complexities of Baltimore seem largely out of the reach of the media outlets that descend, as usual, only when certain neighborhoods burn.

Birthday parties and backyard barbecues – rituals of daily life and love – seem to never make the headlines. Yet images of overturned cars claim the top spot on the evening news every time.

In West Baltimore, at Pennsylvania and North avenues, media featured a drug store on fire.

It's really hard to catch up with Nick Mosby.

The young Baltimore Democrat walks fast, which I discovered when I finally managed to catch up with him. It was early Wednesday afternoon, and Mosby was in the lunchroom of Carver Vocational-Technical High School in West Baltimore, fresh from a TV hit on CNN.

The Baltimore Police Department says the van transporting Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man who suffered a serious spine injury while in police custody and later died, made one more stop than previously thought.

Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said the stop was made at the corner of Fremont Avenue and Mosher Street. A private camera helped make the discovery, he said.

The stop was one of four made by the van that was transporting Gray who suffered a spine injury at some point after his April 12 arrest on a weapons charge.

In the early morning, as the cold set in, Anaya Maze stood next to the charred remains of a CVS store.

Holding a sign, she was the only protester left in front of a line of police officers dressed in riot gear. She is petite. Still, she faced the police officers, looking at them intently.

A few steps away were the charred skeletons of two police vehicles, the victims of an unbridled anger that burned its way through the west side of Baltimore.

(This post was last updated at 11:40 p.m. ET.)

A day of mourning gave way to an evening of riots and looting in Baltimore on Monday, where Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and deployed the National Guard.

Just hours after Freddie Gray's funeral, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets, burning police cars, looting stores and facing off with police. Television images showed those demonstrators throwing rocks, bricks and bottles at a line of police officers in riot gear.

Updated at 7:40 p.m.

Protesters who have turned out in the streets of Baltimore for several days to express anger over the police custody death of Freddie Gray have gathered in their largest demonstration to date Saturday afternoon.

Organizers and supporters, who vowed to "shut down" the city, were using social media to share video of crowds gathering to protest the April 12 death of Gray, who suffered a fatal spinal cord injury while in custody.

Martin O'Malley, former governor of Maryland, says he'll decide by late May whether he's running for president. Running would put him — even he seems to acknowledge — in an uphill battle against Hillary Clinton, currently the only Democrat who has declared.

O'Malley is positioning himself to Clinton's left, and even President Obama's left.

A car that was intercepted near the security gate of the National Security Agency's headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., was fired upon Monday morning, in a clash that left one of the car's occupants dead.

Authorities tell NPR's Dina Temple-Raston that after two suspects tried to ram a vehicle into the entrance gate, one suspect was shot dead and the other was injured by NSA security guards.

The violence took place in Anne Arundel County, where officials say the investigation is being handled by NSA police. Fort Meade lies between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Md.

Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who has served in the Senate and in Congress longer than any other woman, says she will not seek a sixth term in 2016.

Mikulski, 78, announced her decision Monday in Baltimore.

" 'Do I spend my time raising money, or do I spend my time raising hell?' " she said she asked herself, according to The Associated Press.

The Kansas City Royals, who had not seen the playoffs since 1985, have swept the Baltimore Orioles, winning the American League pennant and securing a spot in the World Series.

As The New York Times puts it, right now, the Royals can do no wrong. The team has yet to lose a playoff game, stringing together eight straight victories, a feat no other team has accomplished.

Today, they perfected that run by beating Baltimore 2-1.

Eighteen-time Gold medalist Michael Phelps, who was arrested for Driving Under the Influence, has been suspended for six months and will miss the 2015 FINA World Championships, USA Swimming announced on Monday.

"Michael's conduct was serious and required significant consequences," USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus said in a statement.

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