HOT TOPICS ▶ Undoing The New Deal     Target: Iran     The Real Baltimore     Reality Asserts Itself     United Kingdom    

  December 7, 2016

Following Oakland Fire, Baltimore Evicts Residents of DIY Arts Space

Residents say the Bell Foundry was a safe space for people of color and LGBTQ artists. A GoFundme campaign has raised over $16,000 for evictees.
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

TRNN is giving us real understanding of the issues and a way around the corporate news spin. - heylair
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


DHARNA NOOR, TRNN: I’m standing at the Bell Foundry, a collectively run artist warehouse in the station worth neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland.

This week on Monday, tenants were evicted with less than an hour’s notice from city officials.

SPEAKER: If you guys get what you need for temporarily what you can get in the next 20 minutes and you can come. Obviously they’re going to allow you guys to come back and get the rest of your stuff.

NOOR: This comes in the wake of a tragic fire in Oakland, California at the Ghost Ship Warehouse which left 36 dead.

QUE PEQUENO: Well we’re in the Bell Foundry right now. Going up the stairs. Hey Abby. Hey Nancy.

My name is Que Pequeno and I am a member of the Bell Foundry.

I woke up to the eviction. The fire marshal came saying 2 things. He said that the mayor sent him and he also said that he got a complaint talking about someone said that this place was unsafe.

NOOR: According to the Baltimore Sun, the city has fired housing departments, cited unsafe living conditions, and the lack of a proper use and occupancy permit as the reason for the conviction.

GEORGIA: A lot of us know people in Oakland. Like a lot of us know people who perished in Ghost Ship and we were literally talking about oh we need to get more smoke detectors. It’s good that we have wo stairwells. What can we do to make this a safe place? Fire marshals came in, they looked around, declared the place unsafe, and then were like you need to be out in 20minutes.

NOOR: City officials said that the eviction of the Bell Foundry had nothing to do with the fire in Oakland but residents here seem to have a different idea.

GEORGIA: Well the fire marshals and the police certainly dropped Oakland on us as they were forcing us to leave. Screaming at me about how did we want bodies piled by the door like in Oakland. Like that kind of stuff. So, I don’t know if the city wants to deny that but they certainly didn’t give that memo to their officials the day of.

NOOR: We reached out to the city for a response and the housing authority of Baltimore City said they would look into it and get back to us.

Residents also spoke about the connection they feel to the Bell Foundry and the artist space that it was able to foster.

TARIQ AKA INFINITY KNIVES: I can only speak for now as of the past like year or so but there’s been a lot of folks from the LGBT community and people of color. And I think that’s really cool because there’s not many spaces for people of color, especially DIY spots. I really like it here. I personally would call it a safe haven for sure.

PEQUENO: A lot of people have been in this room. Honestly of course I’m biased but this is the best room in the house. Its very successful because it hasn’t been any truly gentrification but there has been a void filled for like black artists, black musicians such as myself, and what this said was that it’s a place for black artists from Baltimore or touring groups to come here and actually get paid.

NOOR: In both Oakland and Baltimore, residents say that this comes as a part of a larger affordable housing crisis in both cities.

SPEAKER: If this is part of what’s happened with our housing crisis in this state and this is a horrible way for us have to come together.

SPEAKER: They were doing what they love to do the best. Unfortunately, the infrastructure that should be there to protect them, wasn’t.

GEORGIA: Absolutely I mean we see [inaud.] trend in a lot of cities. This is a branded arts district. I can’t say that the Bell Foundry and creative people in this space were not in part doing some of the work of that, by army of presence right. For some people this makes the place attractive. But once it gets past the point of being hospitable to young folks who need lower rent and becomes an attractive neighborhood to real estate developers, then that’s when they force us out. This property I’m sure whether or not this building is condemned it’s right across from the train station.

It’s clear that we’re a fairly privileged group of people in a lot of ways because we have amazing community support. There have been so many offers for places to stay temporarily, rooms opening up, food, support, storage space. You can look around. People are bringing their cars and lots of folks get truly evicted in this city unjustly and do not have the kind of rallying that this space has gotten from its community.

JOE MCNEELY: My wife and I and our partner Jerry [inaud.] are the owners of Bell Foundry. We were committed to making that building a vital part of the station in regards to entertainment district. We have leased the building to two different tenants, one for the Baltimore Rock Opera Society and the other for individual studios. We are working with the tenants who want to come back, to determine what use they want to put to the space and to see that the conditions can be met by a combination of our efforts and their efforts meets the requirements and makes the requirement for the city for those uses.

The city is being very collaborative with their time and expertise but they’re being very adamant about the safety conditions that they require in the building.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at

latest stories

#TheAssistance: Democrats Hand Trump Warrantless Spying
UN Mission Helped Plan Haitian Raid that Ended in Civilian Massacre
Fire and Fury: The Extreme-Right in the White House (Pt. 2/2)
Why is Trump Targeting Palestinian Refugees?
The Fight for a $15 Minimum Wage in Maryland Returns, With Force
Public or Private Ownership of Banks: Which is More Efficient?
Sex-For-Repairs Victim: 'I Felt Like I Had to Do This to Keep My Home'
Fire and Fury: Insights into the Fights Within the US Ruling Elite? (1/2)
How Will the Mayor's 'Safe Art Space' Task Force Affect Baltimore's Black Artists?
TRNN Replay: Poor People's Campaign Revival
Democrats Openly Back Establishment Candidates for 2018 Primaries
Empire Files: Abby Martin Meets Ahed Tamimi
Global Warming Will Increase Risks of Desertification
Maryland Bill Calls For 100% Renewable Energy by 2035
TRNN Replay: Daniel Ellsberg
From Haiti to Africa, US Owes More Than a Trump Apology
Senate Bill to Reverse FCC's Net Neutrality Repeal Gains Traction
Paramilitary Forces Threaten to Derail Colombia's Peace Agreement
Activists Who Protested UK's Biggest Arms Fair Found Guilty
Democracy in Crisis: Fire and Fire and Fury
Trump's Medicaid Work Requirements Punish the Poor
Judges Rule N. Carolina Representatives Cannot Choose their Voters
TRNN Replay - Guantanamo: Twelve Years of US War Crimes
After Israel Decimated Gaza, Human Rights Defenders Failed It (4/4)
Iran Protests End, But Grievances Remain
NYC Announces $5 Billion Fossil Fuel Divestment and Lawsuit Against World's Biggest Polluters
Bail Industry Allegedly Pays Bribes to Imprison the Poor
In Fusion GPS Testimony, More Questions Than Answers
Oprah 2020? A Progressive's Take
Finkelstein on Gaza's Right to Resist Military Occupation (3/4),, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Web Design, Web Development and Managed Hosting