Baltimore’s much-anticipated “ceasefire” weekend didn’t completely stem shootings the way organizers had hoped, but that doesn’t mean it was unsuccessful, activists and officials say.
The 72-hour period was supposed to be a respite for the city from the ongoing gun violence of 2017. Organizer Erricka Bridgeford and her peers planned the weekend for months, using good old grassroots marketing and social media to spread the message: “Nobody kill anybody for 72 hours,” starting at 12 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 4, and ending at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 6.
The weekend was, in many ways, glorious. The city buzzed with good vibes, from walks and vigils to cookouts and rallies. Speakers and live music brought whole blocks of residents outside to partake in some community-driven warmth. (The shockingly mild August weather didn’t hurt, either.)
But sadly the peace was broken after a solid start with no bloodshed. On Saturday at around 3 p.m., 41 hours in, police said they got their first report of a shooting: a walk-in victim, male and 22, suffering from a wound on his arm. Detectives learned it had happened in the 4800 block of Park Heights Avenue in Northwest Baltimore.
Two hours later, Baltimore saw its first killing of the weekend, after officers on patrol heard gunfire erupt near the 1300 block of Sargeant Street near Pigtown. Police said friends of the victim, later identified as 24-year-old Lamontrey Tynes, rushed him to the hospital, but it was too late. He was pronounced dead by medics shortly after arrival.
Later that evening, police logged a second homicide, when a man later ID’d as 37 year-old Donte Johnson was fatally shot multiple times in the 1600 block of Gertrude Street near Coppin State University. A fourth incident followed on Sunday, when another man, 24, was shot in the forearm in the 100 block of N. Howard Street downtown at around 4:15 p.m. He sought treatment at an area hospital.
Police said Sunday morning that two other non-fatal shootings unfolded on Sunday, with a 30-year-old man shot in the leg just before 10 p.m. in the 2800 block of Woodbrook Avenue, and a 25-year-old man shot in the arm and chest in the 800 block of N. Carey Street.
Baltimore has now logged 211 homicides this year through the first week of August. While some residents and spectators were quick to dismiss the weekend as a failure, campaign organizers and participants immediately defended it as a success, noting the ways that Baltimoreans responded to the shootings with compassion.
This is a high-res photo of the cease-fire prayer circle that Baltimoreans formed around the spot where a man was killed Saturday afternoon. pic.twitter.com/Q4obLBe3JA
— MolotovFlicker (@MolotovFlicker) August 6, 2017
If you understand that the 2 lives we lost to violence inspire us to #VibrateEvenHigher… YOU are a voice of this movement.
If you understand how monumental it is that residents met 56% of the #NobodyKillAnybody goal with 41 hours of zero murder… and how traumatic it is that people’s families & friends have no more hours with their loved ones…
AND if you are able to hold both of these truths in your heart with sacredness & a fire to do better… YOU are a voice of this movement.
Adam Jackson, CEO of the grassroots group Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, commended Bridgeford’s leadership, writing in his own Facebook post, “while there were few murders during this weekend, Baltimore did something that it rarely does (unless prompted in crisis): UNIFY. The pure love and collaborative energy that spread across the city completely blew me away. And that’s the kind of energy that only a Black woman can thrust forward.”
For what it’s worth, city officials also celebrated the ceasefire effort as a success. Police Commissioner Kevin Davis called the campaign “a great conversation starter and momentum builder,” and Mayor Catherine Pugh said in a statement, “this movement must continue and it will take each one of us doing our part to reaffirm the value of human life. We can do this together.”
Actually, the ceasefire campaign really isn’t over. Running with this past weekend’s message, Ceasefire 365 will seek to confront the daunting issue of gun violence year-round. Tonight, organizers are hosting a meeting at Community Mediation on Greenmount Avenue to debrief and to ask an important question of city residents: what’s next?
Click here to keep up with updates from the ceasefire campaign.
This story has been updated with details from police on two additional shootings that occurred on Sunday.
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