We talked about this last week while the plans were still being finalized and, as promised, the city of Baltimore launched their third effort at a “No Murder Weekend” on Friday morning. The last time they attempted this, back in August, they made it roughly 31 hours into the planned 72 hour event before someone was shot and killed. This time they barely made it past midnight Friday before the effort failed. (Baltimore Sun)
Activists rebooted Baltimore’s ceasefire weekend for a second time this year, aiming for 72 hours free of violence. But on the second day, when organizers encouraged residents to bring awareness to the city’s 300 homicides by decorating places where people have been killed, the organizers’ goal was thwarted.
An off-duty Washington police officer was shot and killed early Saturday morning in the Panway/Braddish Avenue neighborhood.
But the ceasefire movement didn’t stop.
Around 2:30 p.m., ceasefire co-organizer Ellen Gee, dressed in white with burning sage in hand, circled the parking lot where the officer, Tony Anthony Mason Jr., 40, was found shot hours earlier.
Officer Mason, a sergeant with the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, was found shot at 12:45 in the morning along with another woman who was shot in the leg. The woman, thankfully, is expected to survive. Officer Mason died in the hospital.
But while this is obviously horrible news yet again, the other activities taking place are enough to perhaps give even some of the most skeptical among us a glimmer of hope. Even the activist the Baltimore Sun article features, Ellen Gee, should probably be encouraged. I’ll grant you that if this were a less deadly serious topic, the prospect of a woman in robes burning sage and chanting might have caused a few snickers. But at least she’s trying. This is Baltimore we’re talking about. It’s a war zone at this point. Somebody has to do something because the municipal government has completely failed the citizens.
And it wasn’t just Ms. Gee trying to spiritually cleanse the murder scene. Despite the setback, Israel Baptist Church organized a day long basketball tournament on some of the public courts, getting young men out there shooting hoops, getting some free food and participating in community activities. The logic there was that if they were on the courts they wouldn’t either be shooting anyone or getting shot. Flash mobs were engaged in singing and dancing in public parks, attracting people to safe(er) spaces with law enforcement coverage.
So even if they couldn’t hold the murder rate to zero for the entire weekend, this is still promising. The citizens are fed up and are starting to take matters into their own hands. Tens of thousands of posters and leaflets were distributed, encouraging people to get out of their homes, take back the streets and drive the criminals into the shadows.
For a look at the real-life effect this gang violence is having on people, take a moment and read this editorial from Sunny Luisa Cooper. It’s titled, My nephew was Baltimore homicide #289. These are real families losing their children to the gangs, either through joining them, becoming collateral damage in the gang wars, or both. Gun control laws and background checks aren’t having any impact on the gangs. Law enforcement is outmanned and all too often outgunned. But if the community refused to accept this any longer they can have the biggest impact on this 21st century plague.
Best of luck to the residents of Baltimore. You’re going to need all the prayers coming your way in the task ahead of you, but if this trend keeps up there just may be a light at the end of the tunnel.