The information in this profile of the Western District Police Station is referenced in the Baltimore Civil Rights Heritage theme study on criminal injustice and context study on the period from 1968 to 1976.
In 1876, the Western District Station moved from its prior location on Greene Street between Baltimore Street and Belvidere Street to a new building on Pine Street. The police continued to use that location from 1876 up until August 31, 1959 when they opened a new station at Riggs Avenue and Mount Street (1034 N. Mount Street). The Western District Station is just one of several stations with near identical designs constructed in a major expansion by the Baltimore City Police Department.
On August 14, 1957, the Baltimore Sun highlighted the Western District Police Station’s construction on the site of a playground at Mount Street and Riggs Avenue as an example of how the city overrode the Baltimore Park Board as the city traded parkland for police stations.
“Under the city charter the Park Board has “charge and control” of all park property. A guardian for the park system, with the power to say “no,” is needed because proposals to encroach on park property are being made all the time. Sometimes public interest justifies the proposals. Sometimes it does not. The Park Board is there to make such determinations, always with the welfare of the parks in mind. …
The city concluded that a playground at Fulton and Riggs avenues, for which the Park Board planned further development, would be the ideal site for a new police station. The Park Board was finally convinced, and co-operated. …
These are merely a few of the more conspicuous episodes in what might be called a continuous war of attrition against the parks. They point up the necessity for a semi-autonomous body with power to pass judgment on all schemes for reducing out precious park acreage.
But now the authority of this body, the Park Board, has been defied. When the Mayor and City Council seized 30 acres of Druid Hill Park land for a civic center site, they did so against the will of the Park Board. If this seizure stands unchallenged, a shadow lies across the board’s supposed powers. The guardian of our park system will have been disarmed.
A full transcript of the editorial can be found in How the Park Board “went along” as Baltimore turned playgrounds into police stations.
During the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, as local residents and activists organized around public safety and criminal injustice issues, the Western District Police Station was a regular site of protest. Examples from a limited search of the Baltimore Sun ProQuest database include:
- Mar 4, 1966: “NEGROES OPEN WAR ON CRIME: Group Of 36 Holds First Meeting At Church: Thirty-six Negro citizens met a church two blocks from Western District Police Station last night as the first step in neighborhood “war on crime” declared by their ministers.” @_negroes_1966
- August 2, 1966: “POLICE, JUDGE DRAW PICKETS: Negroes Walk At Station When Refused Warrants: About 20 Negroes picketed for more than two hours last night outside the Western district police station after a Municipal Court judge declined to issue warrants charging two patrolmen with assault.”@_police_1966
- Jul 4, 1969: “POLICE ARREST 12 IN NEGRO PROTEST: Marchers’ Issue Was K-9 Dog’s Attack On Woman: Twelve persons, nine of them members of the Soul School were arrested in front of the Western district police station last night after they marched for two hours through West Baltimore protesting a police dog’s attack on an Edmondson avenue…” [@_police_1969-1]
- Jul 18, 1969: “15 ACCUSED IN ‘RIOT’ CASE: Jury Takes Action Against Accused Protesters: Fifteen persons were accused by the grand jury yesterday of conspiring to incite riots at the Western District Police Station earlier this month during demonstrations over the biting of several persons by a police dog.@_15_1969
- Aug 27, 1969: “250 Hold Rally At Western District Station: Protest K-9’s, Mace; Urge Civilian Police Review Board: About 250 Negro officials, community leaders and West Baltimore residents gathered outside the Western district police station last night to protest the Police Department’s use of dogs and chemical sprays and to demand a civilian police…” @lynton_250_1969
- Jun 3, 1972: “Man’s arrest protested by 15 persons outside Western district station: About 15 persons protested outside the Western district police station last night the arrest of a 28-year-old man in the 1800 block Moreland avenue, claiming the arrest was improper and that the man was beaten by police.” @_mans_1972
- Nov 13, 1976: “Area is dangerous: Police get busy signal from C. & P. after dark: The telephone company wouldn’t send a repairman to fix the telephones at Western district police station last night. The company told the police the neighborhood was too dangerous after dark.” @twigg_area_1976
- Jul 16, 1980: “Pickets protest police action: About demonstrators, led by local officials of the NAACP, marched and carried picket signs outside the Western District police station yesterday to protest an incident of alleged police brutality over the weekend.”@_pickets_1980