James MacArthur, the Baltimore blogger who broadcast his standoff with police live from his home in December 2012, told WBFF-TV he is still wary of his city’s police department following his release after a five-month jail stint.
“We just need to call Baltimore a Constitution-free zone,” said MacArthur, who was released on Thursday after pleading guilty to possessing a sawed-off shotgun. “We might as well stop pretending.”
MacArthur was arrested and jailed after an hours-long standoff he aired on his website, Baltimore Spectator, on December 1, 2012. The encounter began after he refused to answer authorities who came to serve him an outstanding warrant against him for a probation violation. At the time, MacArthur, who has reported on police misdeeds in the past, said officers did not identify themselves when they arrived at his home, leading him to feel threatened.
The ensuing police response involved a SWAT team, MacArthur said, as well as snipers, which a negotiator said was prompted by statements MacArthur made on Twitter which they deemed to be threatening.
During his incarceration, MacArthur was denied bail requests on four separate occasions, with a local judge ruling him a threat to public safety, something MacArthur addressed in a column published April 29, 2013 in the Indypendent Reader.
“While the state has yet to lay out any actual reasons as to why my Eighth Amendment rights are being denied, the creativity of the court seems to know no bounds,” he wrote. “The latest insult came from Judge Howard when he cited the current foreclosure proceedings on my home as evidence of my being a flight risk. What Howard failed to acknowledge is this situation was one created by him and others in the so-called justice system.”
MacArthur received a three-year prison sentence for the charge, with all but six months of it suspended, and covered by time served at the Baltimore City Detention Center. He was also fined $500.
Baltimore CityPaper reported that a crowd of about 40 of his supporters attended his plea hearing and cheered when Judge Alfred Nance announced the verdict.
“I’m just very disturbed about this stuff,” he told the station. “Nothing that has transpired in the last five months has clarified any of the questions in my mind.”
Watch MacArthur’s interview with WBFF, aired Friday, below.