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Silver Spring residents gather in vigil for Robert Lawrence White

  • Published in Local

Robert White vigil 20180805 183846About 150 people listen to speeches, and then later walk during a vigil for Robert White, the unarmed Silver Spring man who was shot dead by a County police officer. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAKSILVER SPRING — Irene Thompson, the sister of Robert Lawrence White, the Silver Spring resident shot to death by a County police officer on June 11, thanked the 150 people who attended Sunday’s vigil for her brother. While holding back tears, she declared, “There is no justice. We knew the officer would not be prosecuted.”

Thompson referred to the Office of the State’s Attorney for Howard County’s ruling that Police Officer Anand Badgujar was justified in shooting 41-year-old White, who was unarmed.

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Developer buys Ellsworth Place mall in downtown Silver Spring

  • Published in Local

Ellsworth Entrance 1Ellsworth Plaza has a new owner. COURTESY PHOTOA commercial development and investment company in Tennessee recently purchased Ellsworth Place in downtown Silver Spring for $92 million.

GBT Realty Corporation acquired the five-story mall, which is located at Fenton Street, Ellworth Drive and Colesville Road. Ellsworth Place is across from Regal Majestic Stadium movie theater and the Silver Spring Civic Center.

Besides the retail center, which features such stores at Burlington Coat Factory, Dave and Busters, Ross Dress for Less, Guitar Center, Michaels, Ben & Jerry’s and many low-end retailers, the sale also included air rights to potentially build 250,000 square feet of office space atop the stores.

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Officer Cleared In Shooting

  • Published in Local

Montgomery County police officer won’t be prosecuted for shooting unarmed man

YouTube screen capture of body-camera video released by Montgomery County Police of an officer providing backup to Officer Anand Badgujar during incident with Robert White. COURTESY PHOTO  YouTube screen capture of body-camera video released by Montgomery County Police of an officer providing backup to Officer Anand Badgujar during incident with Robert White. COURTESY PHOTO  The Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office this week cleared Montgomery County police officer Anand Badgujar of any wrongdoing in the June 11th shooting that killed an unarmed Silver Spring man, 41-year-old Robert Lawrence White.

In a letter to Montgomery County Police, Howard County State’s Attorney Dario Broccolino said that his office will not press charges against Badgujar, 32, who shot and killed White, an unarmed African-American man after an afternoon confrontation in a parking lot.

“After reviewing all of the pertinent evidence and after a thorough review of the law, by myself and the members of our Senior Staff, we have, unanimously, concluded that Officer Badgujar’s actions were justified under the circumstances. As a result, no further action will be taken by this office,” Broccolino wrote to Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger.

According to a source close to the investigation, the confrontation between Badgujar and White began when Badgujar approached White near the 9200 block of Three Oaks Drive in Silver Spring. After Badgujar approached White, White charged and attempted to hit Badgujar, but White’s punch did not land. That led to Badgujar’s attempt to pepper spray White, but he missed. According to police, the situation escalated from there, as Badgujar requested backup, and went to turn off the ignition to his police cruiser. While Badgujar was going to turn off the ignition, White then ran at Badgujar, knocking him down. As Badgujar fell, he discharged his weapon. At this point, White also fell, got up, stood over Badgujar and began to assault him. Badgujar then fired multiple shots at White, killing him.

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Man dies after being shot by Montgomery County police officer

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Policelights 1

The man that police said threatened his estranged girlfriend and three-year-old son died last week after a Montgomery County Police officer shot him in a Silver Spring home.

According to police, John Carlos Natera-Perez, also known as “Jean Perez,” threatened his estranged girlfriend with a knife and barricaded himself inside a Silver Spring home, before police entered and shot him. Paramedics transported Natera-Perez to a nearby trauma center, where he was in critical condition until his death hours later. Police say Natera-Perez was approximately 30 years old.

According to Montgomery County Police, officers responded to a 911 call from 2800 block of Mozart Drive in Silver Spring, where a woman was screaming over the phone, and a man in the background could be heard saying “I will kill you,” before the call was disconnected.

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World Music Festival brings jazz and Ghanian drums to Silver Spring

  • Published in Music

Trumpet Silhouette in Kente patternSILVER SPRING — Jazz bands shared the stage with African percussionists and Japanese dance troupes, while artisans displayed work that traveled across the Atlantic, at the World Music Festival Sunday in Silver Spring.

The festival highlighted the diverse culture of the D.C. area, with musical performances, food, and artisans. One vendor, Jean-Jacques from GlobalBatik.com, specialized in African art and clothing imported from the West African country of Togo. His wares are handmade by ten different artists in Togo with local fabrics and dyes, according to Jacques.

A popular product in GlobalBatik’s catalog is Batik shirts, according to Jacques. Many of his shirts feature bright, vibrant colors and West African themes and symbols.

“You can fit any kind of story that is related to Africa. In this case, I used an Adrinka symbol, which are visual symbols that usually represent words of wisdom,” said Jacques. “Or this T-shirt here, I put a map of the continent with all the lines representing the main rivers.”

Modern symbols, such as imagery from the Marvel movie “Black Panther,” had a presence among Jacques’s shirts as well. The designs being placed on non-traditional items, such as tank tops, further showed the mix of old and new that Jacques cultivated.

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World Heritage Festival celebrates local diversity

  • Published in Local

SILVER SPRING — The smell of suya kebabs and phad thai filled the air last Sunday as dancers performed and artists showcased their wares at the Silver Spring World Heritage Festival.

The festival featured over 60 vendors, selling an array of artwork, clothes, woodworks and other goods. The art took inspiration from cultures around the world; many clothes featured designs influenced by traditional West African art.

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Silver Spring Post Office moves

  • Published in Local

Spring Center closing fenceAll that remains of the Spring Center strip mall on 16th Street are empty stores and construction trucks. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAKThe U.S. Post Office in the Spring Center shopping center will move temporarily into the Silver Spring Library on 900 Wayne Avenue to make room for the Purple Line.

Like the other stores in the strip mall on 16th Street, the post office was forced to vacate. The post office is the last to go, and demolition work already has begun on the site. 

Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream, 7-11, El Aguila Restaurant, Cameron’s Seafood, Spring Garden Restaurant and Pizza Hut are just a few of the stores that were given notice. Most of the stores have relocated elsewhere. Some closed for good.

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Blues Festival celebrates beautiful music in Downtown Silver Spring

  • Published in Music

Robert Lighthouse Performing at the Silver Spring Blues FestivalSwedish-born musician Robert Lighthouse performed at the Silver Spring Blues Festival. PHOTO BY MATT HOOKE  SILVER SPRING — Singers pined for old lovers, protested social ills, and asked the timeless question, “When I get drunk, who’s gonna carry me home?,” at the 10th annual Silver Spring Blues Festival on Saturday.

The 12-hour-long concert featured 12 artists performing on two stages in downtown Silver Spring. The show marked the end of Blues Week, a series of concerts in the area leading up to Saturday’s festivities, in which 1920s-era blues classics shared the stage with new original songs to create a lively mix of styles.

Alan Bowser, former president of Silver Spring Town Center, started the Silver Spring Blues Festival in 2009. He created the festival to be something unique to Silver Spring, and to help support local businesses.

“Over the years we’ve grown from one stage from two stages. We’ve gone from all-electric blues to electric blues and acoustic blues. We’ve gone from one day to Blues Week because there wasn’t enough time for just one day of blues,” said Bowser.

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District 20 candidates show few differences

  • Published in State

TAKOMA PARK — Seven Democratic candidates seeking to represent District 20 voters in the Maryland House of Delegates found themselves mainly in agreement as they spoke to voters at a forum Tuesday evening.

With little daylight between them, the candidates gave similar responses to questions on a variety of topics, including Interstate 495 traffic, taxes, education, economic development, and the environment.

Hosted jointly by the Women’s Democratic Club, The District 20 Breakfast Club, The Greater Silver Spring Democratic Club, Montgomery County Young Democrats, Montgomery Green Democrats, and the District 20 Caucus at Takoma Park Middle School, and moderated by former State delegate Karen Britto (District 16), the event featured incumbent delegates David Moon and Jheanelle Wilkins, immigration attorney Fatmata Barrie, community activist Lorig Charkoudian, data analyst Malik Lendzondzo, labor organizer Darian Unger, and lawyer George Zokle.

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Women of color forum held in Silver Spring

  • Published in Local

women of colorPanelists pose together following their Montgomery County Women Candidates of Color forum in Silver Spring. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAKSILVER SPRING — Seventeen women of color who are running for local political office urged those attending a panel discussion at the Silver Spring Civic Center June 7 to elect minority candidates so that members of County Council, school board, judicial bench and Democratic committee will be more representative of the population at large.

“When you look across the table, you see all beautiful women, of all shades,” said Brandy Brooks, a candidate for County Council at large. “Then think who’s on council now,” she said at the two-hour forum.

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