Baltimore residents are now begging gangs to stop killing each other for just one weekend.
In early June, police statistics revealed that the City of Baltimore set a record for the most murders in the first five months of a year. Politicians are blaming law enforcement for the spike in violence and the police are blaming the politicians. Everyone has someone to blame but no one seems to have a solution to stop the carnage.
To confront this record-setting trend, citizen groups in Baltimore are turning to their last resort: asking their neighbors to stop killing each other for just one weekend. That is the message behind the Baltimore Ceasefire
movement. The rallying cry is "Nobody Kill Anybody" and the hope is that Maryland's largest city can go at least one weekend - just 72 hours - without someone getting murdered. So, on the first weekend of August, community organizers are asking the city to put down its guns.
In the first 199 days of the year, Baltimore saw 188 homicides. [Correction: the tally has ticked up to 189], or just less than one a day. By comparison, Washington DC has seen 59 homicides so far this year. If left unchecked, Baltimore is on pace to set a city record for the most homicides in a year.
This is what makes the Baltimore Ceasefire movement that much more demoralizing. With the city unable to stem the violence and the real prospect of setting a new murder record, citizen activists are taking the issue into their own hands. But even then, the best they can do is just beg their neighbors to stop killing one another for a single weekend.
"Nobody Kill Anybody" is a pretty universal ideal. Laws or rules against murder are present in all of the world's major religions and every culture agrees that murder is inherently wrong. This is something that should go without saying. But in Baltimore, it apparently has to be said.
Across the country, newspapers and websites are running headlines, seemingly poking fun at the ridiculousness of even having to stoop so low as to beg people to stop killing one another. As a whole, violent crime is on the decline in the United States. But in many of the country's urban centers, homicides are up.
Even if the organizers succeed in preventing all homicides over this three-day period, which they even admit is unlikely, Baltimore would still tie the city's homicide record set in 2015 if the homicide rate holds firm. Over Mother's Day weekend, there was a similar call in Baltimore for gangs to drop their guns for just a few days. During that "ceasefire," four people were shot. Of those, a 59-year-old man and 17-year-old woman were killed.
That is the most depressing part of all of this. As ridiculous as it is for Baltimore residents to have to plead with the community to stop killing people, it is even more unbelievable that the call is being panned as pointless. Not only is this the last resort, but even begging people to stop the violence doesn't seem to work.
Erricka Bridgeford, one of the community organizers behind Baltimore Ceasefire, recently gave an interview explaining how they are trying to get the gangs to put down their guns.
"We are talking to people who have been involved in violence, are involved in violence consistently, people who are vulnerable to be involved in violence," Bridgeford explained. "But please make no mistake, this is not a target for the streets. People are dying in random arguments. People are dying because someone cut them off in traffic. America is a very violent place."
Baltimore Ceasefire will take place between August 4-6.