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Gay minister seeks Baltimore Council seat

AIDS activist, father of 5, is second out gay man to run

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Kinji Scott, gay news, Washington Blade
Kinji Scott, gay news, Washington Blade

Rev. Kinji Scott is running for Baltimore City Council in the 5th district.

Citing flaws in the Baltimore City government and drawing upon his own experience of discrimination, Rev. Kinji Scott has filed as a candidate for the Baltimore City Council in the 5th District. In doing so, he becomes the second openly gay candidate to run for the City Council in 2016. Kelly Cross recently announced he is a candidate for the 12th District.

Scott, 46, and a father of five sons, will be among seven candidates vying for the seat in the 5th Councilmanic District, which includes the West Baltimore neighborhoods of Pimlico, Mount Washington, Cheswolde and Glen. It has been represented by the retiring Rochelle “Rikki” Spector for the past 36 years.

“I am running for office because the Baltimore City Council has lost touch with the citizens,” Scott told the Blade. “I am not a politician.”

Scott said that there is a need for a voice that represents the people’s interests and not those of the politicians and noted he is that proven voice.

“I have stood against the city administration, criminals in our community, and Baltimore City Police Department on behalf of Baltimoreans,” he said. “I will continue when I am elected to the City Council.”

Scott, who prides himself as being the only gay Baptist minister in Baltimore, was an activist most of his life. However, he says a tragic event in 2005 motivated him to do more.

He had been a group home manager for the now defunct Fellowship of Lights — a place in Baltimore where homeless or runaway gay or straight youths ages 12 to 17 came for shelter.  When Scott found suitable housing for a 16-year-old boy named Vatell Murray, who was a resident of the home, the Baltimore City Department of Social Services dismissed it, according to Scott, and instead placed the teenager in an area where people had threatened to kill him.   Department officials, said Scott, had promised to keep him safe.

Tragically, the teen was murdered 45 days later, and after denouncing the tragedy publicly, Scott said he was fired from his job. Since then he has spoken out on such community issues as lead paint poisoning, juvenile services, housing, police reform and public education. He has also been a strong voice concerning hate crimes against LGBT community, such as the beating of Kenni Shaw in 2012.

Scott accelerated his activism after his experience at a Baltimore City Health Department clinic soon after being diagnosed in 2012 with the co-infections HIV and syphilis. Scott said contracting both infections is not uncommon from MSM encounters.

“Syphilis ulcers on the genitals establish entry ways for HIV,” Scott explained. “We can’t simply talk about HIV without talking about syphilis. Baltimore City Health Department has to do a better spreading this message in our schools, churches and places where people gather like bars and clubs. Especially when it comes to our young LGBTQ community members that message has to be established.”

He added, “The Baltimore City Police stepped up patrolling the infamous ‘meat rack’ in Mount Vernon where young black men sex workers can be found, but the Health Department canvassing and outreach has not increased. That needs to happen and when I am elected I will get it done.”

Scott earned a master’s in American history from Southern Illinois University and has completed all but his thesis for a second master’s in city planning from Morgan State University. He said his life’s experiences and his zeal to help others in need provide the rationale for his candidacy.

“I am an outspoken and passionate activist with a history of advocating on behalf of Baltimoreans,” he said. “I want to advocate on behalf of Baltimoreans as a member of Baltimore City Council.”

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Baltimore

Baltimore Pride event disrupted by possible chemical agent, causing panic and injuries

Incident caused a stampede

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This year’s Pride Parade and Festival was expected to attract 100,000 people. (Photo by Kaitlin Newman/the Baltimore Banner)

BY JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV and BRENNA SMITH | A possible chemical agent was released in front of the main stage at the Baltimore Pride Parade and Block Party on Saturday night, causing a stampede.

The incident occurred around 7 p.m. and police did not release the chemical agent, according to a spokesperson. The main stage for the event was located near North Avenue and Charles Street.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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District of Columbia

Accused drug dealer charged with fentanyl distribution leading to deaths of two D.C. gay men

June 13 indictment links previously arrested suspect to deaths

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(Bigstock photo)

The Office of the U.S. Attorney for D.C. has announced that federal prosecutors on June 13 obtained an indictment against one of two D.C. brothers previously charged with multiple counts of illegal drug distribution that now charges him with “distributing cocaine and fentanyl” on Dec. 26, 2023, that resulted in the deaths of D.C. gay men Brandon Roman and Robert “Robbie” Barletta.

In a June 13 press release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Jevaughn ‘Ledo’ Mark, 32, is charged in a new “secondary superseding indictment” linked to the Roman and Barletta deaths. It says he and his brother, Angelo Mark, 30, “previously were charged on April 9 in a 17-count superseding indictment for participating in a conspiracy that distributed large amounts of fentanyl and cocaine in the metropolitan area.”

The press release says Jevaughn Mark is currently being held without bond on charges that include eight counts of unlawful distribution of fentanyl, cocaine, and heroin and distributing 40 grams or more of fentanyl between Jan. 10, 2024, and March 13, 2024. According to the press release, the charges were based on six illegal drug purchases from Jevaughn Mark by undercover U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and undercover D.C. police officers.

Court records show that Angelo Mark was charged in a criminal complaint on March 22 with multiple counts of conspiracy to distribute narcotics and is also being held without bond.

D.C. police and Fire and Emergency Medical Services reports show that Roman, 38, a prominent D.C. attorney and LGBTQ rights advocate, and Barletta, 28, a historic preservation expert and home renovation business owner, were found unconscious when police and emergency medical personnel responded to a 911 call and arrived at Barletta’s home on Dec. 27. The reports show that Roman was declared deceased at the scene and Barletta was taken to Washington Hospital Center where he died on Dec. 29.

A police spokesperson told the Washington  Blade in February that police were investigating the Roman and Barletta deaths, but investigators had to wait for the D.C. Medical Examiner’s official determination of the cause and manner of death before the investigation could fully proceed.

Both men were patrons at D.C. gay bars and their passing prompted many in the LGBTQ community to call for stepped up prevention services related to drug overdose cases, even though the cause and manner of death for the two men was not officially determined until early April.

In April, the D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner disclosed that the cause of death for both men was an accidental consumption of several drugs that created a fatal “toxic” effect. The Medical Examiner’s office said Barletta’s death was linked to the consumption of at least four different drugs and Roman’s death was caused by the “combined toxic effect” of six drugs. The Medical Examiner’s office disclosed that cocaine and fentanyl were among the drugs found in the bodies of both men. And for both men, the manner of death was listed as “Accident/Intoxication.”

When the cause and manner of death were disclosed by the Medical Examiner, D.C. police spokesperson Tom Lynch said the police investigation into the deaths remained open but said, “There are no updates on the investigation that we are ready to release to the public.”

But the Medical Examiner’s findings prompted Johnny Bailey, the community outreach coordinator for HIPS D.C., an LGBTQ supportive organization that provides services and support for those who use recreational drugs, to say he strongly believed that Barletta and Roman did not intentionally consume some of the drugs found in their system.

“I’m going to say I do believe this was a poisoning,” Bailey told the Blade. “I think it is unfair to call some things an overdose because an overdose is when you do too much of a drug and you die from that drug,” he said. “This is like if you have a few glasses of wine every night and someone puts arsenic in your wine, no one would be like, ‘oh, they drank themselves to death.’ They were poisoned. And that’s what I think is happening here,” he said in referring to Barletta and Roman.

In announcing the new charges against Jevaughn Mark that link him to Barletta and Roman’s deaths, the U.S. Attorney’s press release discloses that he supplied fentanyl in the drugs he sold unknowingly to the undercover DEA and D.C. police officers when one of the officers, posing as a drug buyer, did not ask for fentanyl.

“In each instance, the DEA/MPD agents requested to buy ‘Special K’ or Ketamine from Jevaughn Mark,” the press release says. “In every instance, Jevaughn Mark supplied a mixture of fentanyl and other substances, including heroin, but not ketamine,” it says.

The release says that after the earlier indictment against Jevaughn Mark was issued, law enforcement agents conducted a search of his Southeast D.C. home and “recovered two firearms, cocaine, fentanyl, about $38,000 in cash, body armor vests, and drug trafficking paraphernalia.” It says on that same day authorities executed another search for a second residence linked to Jevaughn Mark, where they located a bedroom used by his brother Angelo Mark.

“From Angelo Mark’s bedroom, law enforcement recovered seven firearms, 900 rounds of ammunition, dozens of pills, cocaine, fentanyl, drug trafficking paraphernalia, and about $50,000 in cash,” the press release says, adding, “Based on the evidence, both brothers were indicted in the first superseding indictment.” 

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Delaware

Delmarva Pride to feature drag, dancing, and more this weekend

Easton and Cambridge to host events

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A scene from Delmarva Pride. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Delmarva Peninsula will hold its annual Pride celebration this weekend, including drag shows, a festival, and much more. 

The Delmarva Pride Center will put on the annual Pride celebration starting on Friday, June 14, and it will go until Sunday to celebrate queer love and acceptance in Delmarva.  

The weekend kicks off on Friday with a free legal clinic in partnership with FreeState Justice at the Academy Art Museum, 106 South St., Easton, Md. Free legal services including name and gender marker changes, criminal record expungements, and peace and protection orders are just some of the services being offered. For more information visit freestate-justice.org.

Then on Friday night, the third annual Pride Drag Show will be at the Avalon Theatre, 40 E Dover St., in Easton. Bring your cash as four drag queens and host Miranda Bryant put on the fundraising show, where 100% of ticket sales go to the Delmarva Pride Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and performance begins at 7 p.m. For tickets visit avalonfoundation.org.

On Saturday there will be the Pride festival from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at  S. Harrison and E. Dover Street, in Easton. This free community festival will include vendors, live performances, and more. 

Saturday night the party gets going as Delmarva Pride will host its 2024 Pride Dance. There will be a DJ and drinks available for purchase. This event is for 18 and up and will include a cash bar for anyone 21 and up. No tickets are required. 

To round out your Pride weekend, on Sunday the Delmarva Pride Brunch will be held at ArtBar 2.0, 420b Race St. in Cambridge, Md. Tickets include food, access to the mimosa bar, and a drag performance. Tickets are available here

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