This is one of those headlines which starts sounding like a broken record after a while, but Baltimore is approaching the 300 mark for murders in 2017, a staggering figure for a city with a population just over 620,000. (That’s more murders than have been recorded this year in New York City which has a population of nearly 8.5M.) Can anything be done? Well, they’re rolling out an idea which was already tried a couple of times this year.
Since the police and the municipal government seem powerless to do anything about it, this weekend a group of concerned residents are once again taking their appeal directly to the streets. They’re asking the gang members to please stop killing people just for one weekend. (Baltimore Sun)
As homicides mount, Baltimore residents are again calling for a weekend without violence.
The second 72-hour-long Baltimore Ceasefire is scheduled Friday through Sunday with events planned around the city each day in an effort to curb the city’s rising number of homicides as it nears 300.
“We’re doing ceasefires quarterly because we saw what the first one did, how much hope it gave the city,” said Erricka Bridgeford, one of the event’s founders.
One city councilman tried to call an emergency meeting to discuss the city’s crime prevention plan yesterday, but the Mayor said she and her deputies could not attend because of extra law enforcement efforts rolling out for Halloween. One local activist, Will Hanna, addressed the issue and said that more cops aren’t the answer. People need jobs to get them off the streets and out of the drug trade.
“You got to take the guys off the street and put some money in their pocket,” Hanna said. “It’s a street issue. You can’t police that. You can’t legislate that.
“Take the money out of drugs and replace it. Because if we don’t replace it, we’re going to have 300 murders every year.”
Many of the speakers said they were disappointed in Pugh’s decision not have the administration participate. Scott said police officials and other top mayoral deputies should be prepared to talk about the crime-fighting strategy at a moment’s notice. The holiday should not have prevented top city officials from testifying.
There’s no question that Hanna is correct. Communities with high employment and greater opportunities uniformly tend to have lower rates of violent crime, drug or alcohol abuse and other problems associated with poverty. The problem is that the poverty, gang activity, drug use and general sense of decay are so endemic in Baltimore that simply throwing money at the problem isn’t going to solve it. A place like Baltimore needs a bottom-up solution which begins with the families, the churches and the schools.
So will this 72-hour ceasefire work? When they tried this in August they made it a little more than 24 hours. Back on Mothers Day a similar effort didn’t even stop the killing for that long.
But if nothing else, they may have Mother Nature on their side. Temperatures are plunging and there’s rain in the forecast. A significant body of data shows that the murder rate tends to drop with the thermometer, as street activity decreases and people stay indoors. But more than anything else I think the people of Baltimore need to pray. Their municipal leaders have failed them for generations and it will likely take the intervention of God to turn this ship around on short notice.