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Who is Duane Davis? Baltimore mayor Brandon Scott tells heckling activist 'Shorty, pull your mask up man'

Davis is an African-American activist and a barbecue cook, known to be constantly 'marching, demonstrating, training others on the ins and outs of organizing'
Baltimore mayor Brandon Scott and activist Duane Davis (Wikimedia Commons)
Baltimore mayor Brandon Scott and activist Duane Davis (Wikimedia Commons)

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, during a Baltimore City COVID-19 update on Tuesday, kept getting interrupted by an angry crowd member. Scott, after some time, responded to the heckler with, “Hold on one second. Shorty, pull your mask up man. People are dying, Shorty.”

The Twitter account called Baller Alert shared the video of the confrontation, with the caption: “Baltimore elected a LIT a** mayor. He wants all the smoke.” Retired professional basketball player Rex Chapman tweeted, “I have a brand new favorite politician and it’s Baltimore’s new mayor Brandon Scott. This whole exchange is great. ‘Shorty, pull your mask up. People are dyin’.”


During the presser, Scott said he will make a decision by Friday about whether to roll back any of the city’s current coronavirus-related restrictions. As per the Baltimore Sun, restaurants have remained open for delivery and takeout service, but the dining ban has been criticized by the city’s restaurant owners who have operated under several restrictions since March 2020.

Scott said that coronavirus cases in the city have decreased by 19 percent in comparison to the last four weeks. “We will be looking at data and hospitals, what impact travel and gatherings around Christmas and New Year’s had on our data, and will make a decision,” Scott said, pledging to give business owners a full week’s notice before any changes.

In this regard, the “Shorty” in question is relevant. While the word “shorty” has been a popular part of hip-hop. It is often used to refer to women as a term of endearment. But over here, Shorty is an actual person.

Who is Shorty?

Journalist Lisa Snowden wrote on Twitter, “Non-Baltimore people: the Shorty he is addressing is an actual person named Shorty. I won’t tag him unless he sees this and says he wants me to.” But following that, she let others know who Shorty is. 


As per a Baltimore Sun profile, Shorty’s real name is Duane Davis. Davis is an African-American activist and a barbecue cook. He is known to be constantly “marching, demonstrating, training others on the ins and outs of organizing, working with the homeless, mocking and sometimes interrupting media outlets not up to his standards, or creating funny protest art in the form of collage-covered toilets that he leaves in front of buildings”.

Before Shorty moved to Baltimore in 1991, he lived in Zion, Illinois. From 1997-2007, he ran Shorty's Pit Beef & Ribs, a barbecue stand that began at Greenspring Station in the city. "When I used to sell dope I did this on the side," he told the paper.

As per the Sun, Davis began cooking when he was eight years old. Davis, who called himself Bea Gaddy [a now-dead Baltimore city council member who was a leading advocate for the poor and homeless] on wheels, used his grill to further his activism, holding events to feed and educate people in the community at the same time.

Talking about his barbecue, David told the Sun in 2016, “You know when I really got started? You know Jesus with the fishes and loaves? That was my first day on the job, I've been cooking ever since. I showed [Jesus] how to cut s*** and make it stretch, know what I'm saying? I was there. Last Supper? I was there. They ain't never say shit about the cook but they always talk about the meal.”