In a city with 235 murders and counting this year, an attempt at one weekend without any shootings simply isn’t enough.
The organizers behind the Baltimore Ceasefire campaign, which called for zero shootings from Aug. 4-6, have set another weekend in November with the same call to action in mind: “Nobody kill anybody.”
The next Ceasefire weekend will be Nov. 3-5, according to the Baltimore Ceasefire 365 Facebook page. The weekend “will be another opportunity to raise the vibration in Baltimore (#VibrateHigher), create life-affirming and life supporting events throughout the city, and to connect with one another so that we can put the UNITY back in community,” a post from Thursday says. “We did it before. We CAN and WILL do it again.”
Ericka Bridgeford, a community mediator who’s led organizers in the grassroots initiative all summer, couldn’t be reached for comment Friday morning. Her employer, Community Mediation Maryland, hasn’t returned a message.
The Ceasefire campaign from August offered mixed results. A half-dozen people were shot from Friday through Sunday, which isn’t all that different from many summer weekends in Baltimore. However, the movement did display strong ties between residents from neighborhoods around the city, getting them to band together for barbeques, live music, rallies, vigils and more.
Even when the ultimate hope for zero killings was dashed 43 hours in, with the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Lamontrey Tynes near Pigtown, residents came together by linking arms and forming a prayer circle at the site where Tynes was killed.
Five others were shot throughout the weekend, with an end total of two dead and four wounded. And even so, the effort didn’t feel like a failure to organizers.
Adam Jackson, CEO of the nonprofit Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, told the Afro‘s Sean Yoes, “It was about embracing anti-violence and also uplifting the spirit….and changing the vibration and lifting the vibrations of Baltimore. And I know for me personally…if you were at Belair and Erdman at midnight, that Friday it was electric.”
In addition to strengthening community bonds, the goal of Ceasefire is also to eradicate an underlying cultural norm that encourages mostly young, black men in violence-riddled neighborhoods to pick up a gun as an answer to conflict. As Gregory Marshburn of the violence-interruption program Safe Streets told Baltimore Sun columnist E.R. Shipp, “If you start to get more people to not accept it anymore, then the people that’s shooting won’t feel accepted — and that’s what it’s all about out here: acceptance. Respect and acceptance.”
Ceasefire’s organizers promised the effort would become a yearlong campaign after the first event in August. They’re now working with locals to put their plan into action again in November, and are holding community input meetings leading up to that weekend.
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