Did you hear about the ceasefire? No… not the one in Syria, though that’s important too. This ceasefire, assuming it comes together, is taking place in an American city.
While the rest of the country was celebrating National Ice Cream Day, some concerned residents of Baltimore were planning a different sort of occasion. One mother with young children has been going around taping up flyers and walking up to the gang members on the street corners where drugs are sold and making a very simple plea to them for the first weekend in August. “Nobody kill anybody.” (Baltimore Sun)
A 44-year-old mother might seem an unusual visitor on the drug corners of Baltimore, but Erricka Bridgeford has shown up for weeks to make her pitch for peace.
Forget your grudges for one weekend, she urges the young men she finds. Help bring a 72-hour truce to a city besieged by gun violence.
“It’s a citywide call,” she tells them, “but I’m talking to you.”
Bridgeford and other neighborhood leaders are drumming up support for a three-day ceasefire the first weekend of August to quell Baltimore’s violence. She admits that such peace is a tall order for a city that’s seen 188 killings this year.
Even with my normally dark and cynical sense of humor, even I can’t bring myself to make fun of this idea. Erricka Bridgeford has the kind of bravery which one typically only finds in mothers, putting her own life at risk to try to protect her children and those of the other families in the area. Sadly, it’s going to be a tall order to fill. There hasn’t been a single weekend in Baltimore without a murder this year from what I can see in the local media records. And this isn’t the first time this has been tried. As the Sun reminds us, the group Mothers of Murdered Sons went out and tried to organize a ceasefire on Mothers Day weekend this year. Despite their best efforts, four people were shot anyway, with two of them dying from their wounds, including a 17 year old girl.
This effort is also coming at about the toughest time of the year for such progress. The heat seems to bring out the gang bangers and the Baltimore City Paper reminds us that this past weekend was no exception.
Friday, July 14
11 p.m. A man who police have not yet identified publicly was on the 3200 block of W. Baltimore Street when someone shot him multiple times in the body. Medics took him to a hospital, where he died.
11:45 p.m. An adult man who police are not yet identifying publicly was on the 100 block of Reedbird Avenue in Cherry Hill when someone shot him to death. Another man was also hit but is expected to survive.
The grim list continues from there. Baltimore is on track to set a record for murders not seen in generations. In fact, they’re actually threatening to pull ahead of Chicago at this point, which is no mean feat when you consider how much larger the population of the Windy City is. Gun control laws have done nothing. Community outreach isn’t reaching the right parts of the community. Somebody needs to clean out the gangs, but there’s no indication that the will exists to do that, to say nothing of the resources it would require.
Perhaps Ms. Bridgeford will somehow succeed where everyone else has failed. We can only pray for her safety and success.