After the death of Freddie Gray in April, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) opened a satellite office in Sandtown-Winchester — the western Baltimore neighborhood where Gray was arrested — and since then NAACP members have noted the Republican presence and support.
“Since we opened the Sandtown office,” Baltimore NAACP Chairman of Criminal Justice, Hassan Giordano, said in an interview with the Baltimore Sun, “not one Democrat other than [Delegate] Antonio Hayes has been there.”
Republicans visitors however, Giordano recognized, have included Governor Larry Hogan and Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford, among others.
With the president of the Baltimore NAACP Tessa Hill-Aston, Hogan has toured Sandtown and been discussing strategy for “dealing with the crisis” and then “address[ing] the underlying causes.”
The governor even stopped at a playground to play basketball with some of the locals. One of those locals, Desmond Edmonds, told the Baltimore Sun that playing basketball with a governor was a “new experience” for him, and that “[The governor] can shoot!”
“After years of poverty and high crime in a city led for decades by Democrats, Republicans say their message is clear,” the Baltimore Sun reported, “Give us a chance.”
The Maryland Republican Party is also financing some of the local NAACP’s major events.
The Maryland GOP has also funded Martin Luther King, Jr.’s niece — Reverend Alveda King, a civil rights leader and former Democrat turned Republican — to travel to Baltimore and attend a “community discussion” at the NAACP office in Sandtown.
Joe Cluster, director of the Maryland GOP, stated that “the first thing [the GOP is doing] is showing [Baltimore] the Republican Party is out there.”