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MSP troopers from Cecil County help secure nation's capitol

ANNAPOLIS — At least two of the 200 Maryland State Police troopers that Gov. Larry Hogan sent to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday — to help restore peace amid a violent and destructive insurrection by Trump supporters — are normally assigned to a barrack in Cecil County, police officials confirmed.

Hogan mobilized 200 MSP troopers who are specially trained members of the agency’s statewide mobile field force team, formerly known as the “riot team,” and the governor also deployed 500 members of the Maryland National Guard — the first national guard unit to arrive in Washington, D.C. to help members of local law enforcement agencies who were outnumbered by aggressive rioters.

Every MSP barrack in the state has at least one trooper who is a specially trained member of the mobile field force team and, depending on the situation that arises, some or all of those team members are pressed into service.

North East Barrack has several troopers who are assigned to that team and, of those, two were sent down to the nation’s capitol on Wednesday with that special squad. Information regarding the number of mobile field force team members sent from the JFK Barrack near Perryville was unavailable, as of Thursday afternoon.

“As part of a coordinated effort with federal and local law enforcement, the Maryland State Police’s mobile field force team provided security support to restore the peace at the U.S. Capitol building last night, and also assisted the Metropolitan Police throughout the night with the enforcement of curfew violations,” Hogan outlined Thursday during a press conference.

The governor further reported, “Maryland State Police commanders are in constant communication with D.C. law enforcement officials, and we have assured them that we will continue to provide any further assistance that they require.”

After noting that the Maryland National Guard is among the military and law enforcement agencies that typically provide security during presidential inaugurations, Hogan reported that, given the unrest following Wednesday’s insurgency, Maryland National Guardsmen will remain in Washington, D.C. for at least three weeks.

President-Elect Joe Biden is scheduled to take his oath of office on Jan. 20.

“Today we are extending the Maryland National Guard’s mission in Washington, D.C., through the inauguration and the end of the month,” Hogan commented.

Earlier on Thursday, Hogan met with some of the deployed Maryland National Guard members and expressed his gratitude.

“I just got back from the D.C. armory, where I had the chance to meet with and thank some of the members of the National Guard for their service on this important mission to protect our nation’s Capitol. I thanked them for their service, and told them that this assault on our democracy cannot stand,” Hogan said, before commenting, “I just want to assure all Americans that the State of Maryland will do anything and everything we possibly can to continue to secure the core of our nation’s capital, and to ensure the peaceful transition of power.”

Sending help

Hogan recalled how he was in the middle of a video conference with a Japanese ambassador to the United States early Wednesday afternoon, when his chief of staff informed him that “the U.S. Capitol was under attack,” prompting the governor to excuse himself from that virtual meeting.

The governor immediately convened an emergency meeting of “our entire unified command team,” which included MSP Superintendent Col. Jerry Jones and General Tim Gowen of the Maryland National Guard, as well as Hogan’s senior staff and homeland security advisor.

“We immediately offered support to the District of Columbia, which submitted a direct request for law enforcement support through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact,” the governor said, adding, “I directed Colonel Jones to mobilize our mobile field force of 200 specially-trained Maryland State Police troopers to help provide security for our nation’s Capitol. I also instructed General Gowen to immediately call up our initial response force of the Maryland National Guard.”

In the midst of that security meeting, Hogan received a call for help — from lawmakers who were sheltering for safety amid the riot.

“I got a phone call from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who was calling me saying that he and Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and Senator (Chuck) Schumer were all together in an undisclosed bunker — they had been spirited off to some undisclosed location — that the U.S. Capitol Police was overwhelmed, that there was no federal law enforcement presence, and that the leaders of Congress were pleading with me as the governor of Maryland for assistance from Maryland’s National Guard and State Police,” Hogan said.

The governor added, “I informed Speaker Hoyer and the other leaders that a force of specially trained riot police equipped to respond to civil disturbances as well as members of allied and local law enforcement agencies were already en route to the Capitol.”

Hogan also informed them, though, that he had encountered a snag.

“I also told them that I authorized the mobilization of the Maryland National Guard and that I was ready, willing, and able to immediately deploy them to the Capitol. However, we were repeatedly denied approval to do so. Under federal law, the mayor of the District of Columbia does not have authority over the guard, and we must receive approval from the Secretary of Defense, before we’re able to send our Maryland National Guard across the border into the federal city, into the District of Columbia. So we had a little back and forth, trying to get that authorization. In the meantime, we did not hesitate to continue to mobilize and get ready so that if and when we finally got that approval, we could immediately move,” Hogan explained.

About 90 minutes later, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy called Hogan on his cell phone and gave the authority needed to move the supportive units into the city, according to Hogan. Th governor reported that he did not recognize the number of the incoming call and described the call as “out of the blue, not normal channels.”

“The initial contingent of Maryland National Guard members were the first to arrive in Washington from out of state,” Hogan noted.

Condemning Trump

Toward the beginning of his press conference, Hogan commented, “Yesterday our nation’s Capitol—the seat of our federal government and the heart of our American democracy—came under siege in a heinous and violent assault.”

After providing a historical perspective of the peaceful transition of power that has occurred in the United States for the past 236 years, Hogan indirectly criticized Trump for his failure to concede to Biden after losing the Nov. 3 election and for unyieldingly claiming that the presidency had been stolen from him through widespread voter fraud — without providing any evidence.

“Over the last two months, this sacred tradition has come under attack from our own president, who has chosen to fan the flames of hate and mislead millions of voters through lies and conspiracy theories rather than face the reality of his own defeat,” Hogan said.

The governor continued, “It’s clear to me that President Trump has abandoned this sacred oath. What we saw in the nation’s Capitol was not just an attack on people’s representatives, or historic buildings, and our law enforcement. It was an attack on the rule of law, the foundations of self-government, and who we are as Americans.”

Near the end of the press conference, Hogan, in response to a reporter’s question, opined, “There is no question that America would be better off if the president would resign or be removed from office.” The governor then expressed confidence that Vice-President Pence could effectively finish Trump’s term and oversee the peaceful transition of power during the 13 days before Biden’s scheduled inauguration.

Hogan also vowed to do his part to restore order and dignity to the United States.

“The mob may have shattered glass, but they did not and they will not shatter our democracy,” Hogan said. “I could never fathom a day like yesterday in America, but I will not stand for it and neither should any American. I think I speak for many Americans when I say: Enough is enough. Enough of the lies, enough of the hate, enough of the total dysfunction. Just enough. And I promise to do everything in my power to rebuild trust in what makes this nation great, to heal old wounds rather than inflame them, and to make sure that democracy—that the people—always prevail.”


Cecilwhig
AP top story
Chaos, violence, mockery as pro-Trump mob occupies Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — “Where are they?” a Trump supporter demanded in a crowd of dozens roaming the halls of the Capitol, bearing Trump flags and pounding on doors.

They — lawmakers, staff members and more — were hiding under tables, hunkered in lockdowns, saying prayers and seeing the fruits of the country’s divisions up close and violent.

Guns were drawn. A woman was shot and killed by police, and three others died in apparent medical emergencies. A Trump flag hung on the Capitol. The graceful Rotunda reeked of tear gas. Glass shattered.

On Wednesday, hallowed spaces of American democracy, one after another, yielded to the occupation of Congress.

The pro-Trump mob took over the presiding officer’s chair in the Senate, the offices of the House speaker and the Senate dais, where one yelled, “Trump won that election.”

They mocked its leaders, posing for photos in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one with his feet propped on a desk in her office, another sitting in the same seat Vice President Mike Pence had occupied only moments before during the proceedings to certify the Electoral College vote. That certification would eventually take place, but not until well after midnight.

There was a heavy police presence at the Capitol on Thursday morning, including officers from D.C., Maryland and Virginia and the D.C. National Guard. But the streets were quiet.

Wednesday began as a day of reckoning for President Donald Trump’s futile attempt to cling to power as Congress took up the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. It devolved into scenes of fear and agony that left a prime ritual of American democracy in tatters.

Trump told his morning crowd at the Ellipse that he would go with them to the Capitol, but he didn’t. Instead he sent them off with incendiary rhetoric.

“If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” he said. “Let the weak ones get out,” he went on. “This is a time for strength.”

His lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told the crowd, “Let’s have trial by combat.”

What happened Wednesday was nothing less than an attempted coup, said Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., a frequent Trump critic, said, “Today, the United States Capitol — the world’s greatest symbol of self-government — was ransacked while the leader of the free world cowered behind his keyboard.”

Sasse went on: “Lies have consequences. This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the president’s addiction to constantly stoking division.”

Police said they recovered two pipe bombs, one outside the Democratic National Committee and one outside the Republican National Committee and a cooler from a vehicle that had a long gun and Molotov cocktail on Capitol grounds.

Yet Trump, in a video posted 90 minutes after lawmakers were evacuated, told the insurrectionists “We love you. You’re very special,” while asking them to go home.

Authorities eventually regained control as night fell.

Heavily armed officers brought in as reinforcements started using tear gas in a coordinated effort to get people moving toward the door, then combed the halls for stragglers, pushing the mob farther out onto the plaza and lawn, in clouds of tear gas, flash-bangs and percussion grenades.

Video footage also showed officers letting people calmly walk out the doors of the Capitol despite the rioting and vandalism. Only about a dozen arrests were made in the hours after authorities regained control. They said a woman was shot earlier as the mob tried to break through a barricaded door in the Capitol where police were armed on the other side.

She was hospitalized with a gunshot wound and later died.

Early on, some inside the Capitol saw the trouble coming outside the windows. Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota surveyed the growing crowd on the grounds not long after Trump had addressed his supporters by the Ellipse, fueling their grievances over an election that he and they say he won, against all evidence.

“I looked out the windows and could see how outmanned the Capitol Police were,” Phillips said. Under the very risers set up for Biden’s inauguration, Trump supporters clashed with police who blasted pepper spray in an attempt to hold them back.

It didn’t work. Throngs of maskless MAGA-hatted demonstrators tore down metal barricades at the bottom of the Capitol’s steps. Some in the crowd were shouting “traitors” as officers tried to keep them back. They broke into the building.

Announcements blared: Due to an “external security threat,” no one could enter or exit the Capitol complex, the recording said. A loud bang sounded as officials detonated a suspicious package to make sure it was not dangerous.

It was about 1:15 p.m. when New Hampshire Rep. Chris Pappas, a Democrat, said Capitol Police banged on his door and “told us to drop everything, get out as quickly as we could.”

“It was breathtaking how quickly law enforcement got overwhelmed by these protesters,” he told The Associated Press.

Shortly after 2 p.m., Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Vice President Mike Pence were evacuated from the Senate as protesters and police shouted outside the doors.

“Protesters are in the building,” were the last words picked up by a microphone carrying a live feed of the Senate before it shut off.

Police evacuated the chamber at 2:30 p.m., grabbing boxes of Electoral College certificates as they left.

Phillips yelled at Republicans, “This is because of you!”

Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., told reporters he was in the House chamber when protesters began storming it. He said security officers urged lawmakers to put gas masks on and herded them into a corner of the massive room.

“When we got over to other side of the gallery, the Republican side, they made us all get down, you could see that they were fending off some sort of assault, it looked like,” he said. “They had a piece of furniture up against the door, the door, the entry to the floor from the Rotunda, and they had guns pulled.” The officers eventually escorted the lawmakers out of the chamber.

Shortly after being told to put on gas masks, most members were quickly escorted out of the chamber. But some members remained in the upper gallery seats, where they had been seated due to distancing requirements.

Along with a group of reporters who had been escorted from the press area and Capitol workers who act as ushers, the members ducked on the floor as police secured a door to the chamber down below with guns pointed. After making sure the hallways were clear, police swiftly escorted the members and others down a series of hallways and tunnels to a cafeteria in one of the House office buildings.

Describing the scene, Democratic Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut said “there was a point there where officers had their guns and weapons pointed at the door, they were obviously expecting a breach through the door. It was clear that there were pretty close to pulling the trigger so they asked us all to get down in the chamber.”

As he walked out of the Capitol, Himes said he had lived in Latin America and “always assumed it could never happen here.

“We’ve known for four years that our democracy was in peril and this is hopefully the worst and final moment of it,” Himes said. “But with a president egging these people on, with the Republicans doing all they can to try to make people feel like their democracy has been taken away from them even though they’re the ones doing the taking, it’s really hard, really sad. I spent my entire political career reaching out to the other side. And it’s really hard to see this.”

Democratic Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley was also in the balcony. “It’s not good to be around terrified colleagues, with guns drawn toward people who have a barricade ... people crying. Not what you want to see,” he said.

“This is how a coup is started,” said Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif. “This is how democracy dies.”


Cecilwhig
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County entertains resolutions for agriculture grants

ELKTON — Two resolutions were introduced Tuesday evening during the Cecil County Council’s legislative session designed to provide grant funding for Cecil County farmers as part of the county’s Upper Shore Micro Ag Grant program.

According to information on the county’s Office of Economic Development website, the program is a partnership with the Upper Shore Regional Council to provide grant funding to local agricultural businesses looking to expand, diversify or improve their marketing efforts or conduct agriculture research initiatives.

Cecil County Office of Economic Development Agribusiness Coordinator Maureen O’Shea told council members Tuesday that the grant funds include $14,000 in funding from the OED’s Video Lottery Terminal funding, $14,000 from the Upper Shore Regional Council and from those funds, the Maryland Agricultural & Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation would match up to $14,000, for a possible total of up to $42,000 in grant funds.

Grant requests ranging from $250 up to a maximum of $5,000 will be considered on a competitive basis and priority is given to projects that: Benefit the entire Ag community; include two or more businesses working in cooperation; involve new or emerging markets; support Black, indigenous and people of color, women or veteran farmers, or; promote the CecilGrown Buy Local Campaign, according to information on the county’s website.

O’Shea explained that for the MARBIDCO funding, farmers would have to contribute 50 percent of the cost of their project on top of the grant funds that they get from MARBIDCO. O’Shea explained how the grant funds could work as follows, “So our maximum micro grant is $5,000, of that $5,000, $2,500 of that fund is Cecil County money, $2,500 is Upper Shore Regional Council money. Because Cecil County has invested $2,500 into that project, that farmer project, $2,500 can then be matched by MARBIDCO.”

O’Shea further explained that a project, such as the one she described, only qualifies for the additional MARBIDCO funding if they are also willing to put in $7,500 to match, making a $15,000 project.

According to the county’s website, in order to be eligible for grant funding applicants must operate an agricultural business in Cecil County and be actively engaged in farming in one of several categories. There are also five types of projects that are eligible. More details can be found at https://www.ccgov.org/government/economic-development/economic-development/agriculture/upper-shore-micro-ag-grant

During the discussion on the introduction of the two related resolutions an additional $2,000 in funding for advertising was also discussed, with the additional $2,000 coming from the Upper Shore Regional Council.

Both resolutions will be up for consideration during the council’s Jan. 19 meeting.

In other matters before the council:

• A resolution was introduced for the supplemental appropriation of $5,000 to the special revenue/other grant fund of OED tourism to record the grant awarded from the Upper Shore Regional Council for the purpose of a Winter Lights Cecil Nights marketing campaign. Cecil County Tourism Director Sandy Turner explained that Winter Lights Cecil Nights is a promotion designed to partner with towns to come up with ways to get people out of their homes during the cold winter months and into towns to support local businesses. She said each town is doing something a little different with a winter based theme.

“We just wanted to brighten up the county and give citizens something fun to do in the cold weather and support our small businesses,” Turner said.


Joshua Dixon from Elkton has raised the bar for Cecil County anglers by catching this 50-pound flathead catfish in the Susquehanna River at Lapidum Landing Dec. 27.

Elkton man catches 50-pound catfish in the Susquehanna


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Two Elkton residents charged in Eastern Shore drug trafficking case

CENTREVILLE — Two Cecil County residents have been arrested and charged — along with four other people — after a collaborative law enforcement investigation into a “significant drug trafficking organization on the upper Eastern Shore,” Maryland State Police officials reported on Thursday.

Investigators identified one of the Cecil County suspects as Joanne Bragg, 75, and the other as Michael Bragg, 54, both of Elkton. Information regarding what relationship, if any, the two Braggs have with each was unavailable on Thursday.

Held without bond since his Dec. 22 arrest, Michael Bragg is charged with distribution of oxycodone, possession of oxycodone with the intent to distribute, conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and conspiracy to possess oxycodone with the intent to distribute, police said.

Free on a $2,500 bond after her arrest, which also occurred on Dec. 22, Joanne Bragg is facing the same four charges that were filled against Michael Bragg, police added.

Initiated by the Queen Anne’s County Drug Task Force, the investigation “looked into information concerning the operation of a drug trafficking organization believed to be distributing large amounts of opioid pills and cocaine” in that county, police reported.

The Maryland State Police Heroin Investigative Unit joined the investigation and provided assistance during the summer and fall of 2020, after the task force had requested support from that unit, police said. During the course of the overall investigation, police added, multiple law enforcement agencies ultimately provided assistance to the task force.

MSP officials reported that the investigation “confirmed” that Terrance D. Brooks Jr., 41, of Millington, was the head of an organization “believed to be involved in the daily distribution of both powder and crack cocaine and illegal opioid prescription pills in Kent and Queen Anne’s counties.”

“Evidence was developed that enabled investigators to obtain 12 search warrants for four residences, five vehicles and two individuals. The homes searched were located in Millington and Chestertown. Two of the search warrants were served at the same address,” an MSP spokesman outlined.

Investigators confiscated suspect powder cocaine, oxycodone, Adderall and alprazolam pills and suboxone strips, police reported. Detectives also seized an assault pistol, a shotgun and two handguns, police said. In addition, police added, investigators took custody of four vehicles and more than $17,000 in cash “believed to be connected to the drug operation.”

Held without bond since his Nov. 17 arrest, Brooks — the purported leader of the alleged drug distribution organization — is facing 17 charges, including use of a firearm in a drug trafficking crime, possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute and four counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, police reported.

The following three remaining suspects also were arrested and charged, according to MSP officials:

* Terrance D. Brooks Sr., 64, of Millington, was arrested on Dec. 2 and was charged, by way of a criminal summons, with possession of an illegal assault weapon. He was released on personal recognizance.

* Aaron A. Garnett, 49, of Chestertown, was arrested on Dec. 14. Also released on personal recognizance, Garnett is facing six counts, including possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute and maintaining a common nuisance.

* Carrie H. Harris, 40, of Chestertown, was arrested on Dec. 18 and is facing five charges, including possession of oxycodone with the intent to distribute and possession of cocaine. She, too, was released on personal recognizance.

MSP officials reported on Thursday that the investigation is continuing and additional arrests in this case are pending.

Queen Anne’s County officials expressed satisfaction over the collaborative police investigation that led to the six arrests.

“Just another example of joint law enforcement teamwork and our commitment to keep our community safe and free of these illegal drugs,” Queen Anne’s County Sheriff Gary Hofmann said, adding, “As I have often said, if you are dealing drugs, it’s only a matter of time before we hunt you down and arrest those responsible for killing our community. If you have a substance abuse issue, we will help you but we will not tolerate drug sales in and around our community”

Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney Lance Richardson commented, “On behalf of the State’s Attorney’s Office, we would like to convey our great appreciation of law enforcement’s efforts in this investigation. The Queen Anne’s County Drug Task Force has worked tirelessly and steadily in their fight against drug dealers. Our community is overwrought by those who are willing to make a buck by exploiting those who suffer drug addiction. But we will not stop in our fight against them.”

MSP Superintendent Col. Woodrow W. Jones III also applauded the effort.

“The relentless commitment of dedicated state troopers, deputies, police officers and prosecutors working together has once again resulted in the successful dismantling of a criminal enterprise negatively impacting the lives and safety of Eastern Shore citizens,” Jones said, adding, “I commend the initiative, courage and perseverance of each member of the task force and the others who assisted with this investigation. I am committed to continuing this type of teamwork as we work together to make Maryland safer.”

The Queen Anne’s County Drug Task Force is comprised of members of the Maryland State Police, the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office, and the Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney’s Office, police said. It is also supported by the Centreville Police Department and the Maryland Natural Resources Police, police added.

The task force received “valuable assistance” during this investigation from MSP’s Heroin Investigative Unit, the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Tactical Team and CID units, the Delaware State Police, Homeland Security Investigations, the Kent County Narcotics Task Force, the Talbot County Narcotics Task Force, the Caroline County Drug Task Force, the MSP Gun Enforcement Unit North, MSP CED Upper Shore investigators, MSP troopers assigned to the Centreville Barrack, QACSO deputies, Maryland Natural Resources Police officers and members of the MNRP’s tactical unit, police reported.


Location of a fire that occurred in January of 1871

January 1871 fire.


ANDY HARRIS

Congressman Andy Harris


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