On the one-year anniversary of the arrest of Freddie Gray, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and three members of her senior staff will be jetting to Qatar.
The April 12 to 17 trip to the world’s richest country (by measure of per capita income) was arranged by the U.S. Conference of Mayors (of which Rawlings-Blake is president) and the ambassador of Qatar.
The party will be staying at the capital city of Doha.
Arrested last April 12, Gray died on April 19 in police custody, sparking days of protests and a night of rioting over alleged police brutality, systemic racism and lack of city resources directed to Baltimore’s poor black neighborhoods.
The mayor’s trip was disclosed in today’s Board of Estimates agenda, which says the Government of Qatar will pay for her expenses and those of her three traveling companions – Chief of Staff Kaliope Parthemos, Deputy Mayor for Government Affairs Andrew Smullian, and Deputy Mayor for Operations Khalil Zaied. (Zaied recently announced that he will be leaving city government.)
Rawlings-Blake will follow up this trip with a week-long excursion to Havana between May 23 and May 29, courtesy of the Government of Cuba and the mayors’ conference.
Expenses for this trip are expected to be paid by the mayors’ conference, with no costs billed to the city, according to the spending board’s agenda.
The purpose of both trips was not disclosed beyond their connection to Rawlings-Blake’s activities with the mayors’ group.
Her presidency of the group ends in June. She will be completing her last day as Baltimore’s mayor on December 5.