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      Baltimore Police investigate after Young billboard is vandalized to push for no rent during pandemic, criticize police

      A billboard above Baltimore City Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young's campaign headquarters has been vandalized. This photo has been blurred in Photoshop to cover a word.
      A billboard above Baltimore City Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young's campaign headquarters has been vandalized. This photo has been blurred in Photoshop to cover a word.(Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun)

      A billboard for Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, located above his campaign headquarters, has been vandalized.

      Detective Jeremy Silbert, spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department, wrote Sunday in an email that the police department is investigating the incident, which took place at North Avenue and North Charles Street in Station North.

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      The billboard’s message — which typically features Young’s name and reads “Baltimore’s Mayor” — was replaced with “Cancel Rent,” followed by a vulgarity directed at the police.

      As the coronavirus has placed thousands of Marylanders out of work, many have called for the halting of rent and mortgage payments. Fifty Democratic lawmakers sent a letter last week to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan asking for him to cancel rent and mortgage payments for residents and businesses.

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      Baltimore City Council members last week agreed to prohibit landlords from raising rent or imposing late fees until the pandemic has abated. Young and Hogan have halted evictions during the city’s state of emergency.

      The vandalism’s message also touched on long-standing community tensions with law enforcement.

      Since 2017, the city has been under a consent decree, a court-enforceable agreement to resolve the Department of Justice’s findings that it believed the police department had engaged in a pattern and practice of conduct that violates the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments, and certain provisions of federal statutory law.

      The pandemic has caused delays in mandatory police training required by the decree. More than 400 employees have been quarantined, taking away time and resources for the new training.

      Baltimore Police said last weekend that they planned to begin flying surveillance planes over the city after a federal judge April 22 rejected an attempt to halt the controversial program.

      “The Mayor is aware of the alterations to the billboard,” Myles Handy, campaign spokesman, wrote in a statement to The Baltimore Sun. “However his sole focus remains the health and safety of Baltimore’s residents, and leading the city through his pandemic.”

      Silbert, the police spokesman, didn’t say whether or when the vandalism would be covered up. The primary is June 2.

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