In late summer Baltimore residents organized a 72-hour “cease-fire” in hopes of stemming gun violence in their city. It wasn’t perfect. There were at least two homicides that weekend in August. But it led to Cease Fire 2.0, scheduled this weekend.
At the end of the last Ceasefire weekend, organizer Erricka Bridgeford said she wanted to continue the effort, but she didn’t know what it would look like.
“What we do know is that we want it to address all the sides of violence,” said Bridgeford.
Now, it looks like a Facebook page--Ceasefire 3-6-5—and a growing army of volunteers.
Bridgeford and her team have met with community groups since September to gather volunteers and encourage them to start their own neighborhood teams.
“What we would in the last ceasefire is people wanted to volunteer but they didn’t know how they could fit in,” says Jakia Jason, a member of Bridgeford’s original squad.
Jason meets with volunteers in various community centers.
“So this time we’re spelling it out,” says Jason. “Hey, you could share, you could do outreach, you could form your own event.”
Jackie Joyce didn’t even know about ceasefire last August, but she had been fighting for change since January, ever since her nephew—who she calls her son—was killed.
“He was trying to do the right things,” says Joyce. “We wasn’t an angel like I try to tell everybody, he wasn’t an angel by far, but he was a good person, he was a good child, he was someone’s child.”
She became a Ceasefire volunteer at a meeting at the Greater Baltimore Urban League and created her own team in Edmonson Village.
Joyce and her three-person team have been meeting twice a week to spread the word about this weekend’s Ceasefire.
Crystal Turner is on that team. The 33-year-old says she’s been to 12 funerals in the past year, all of them for people who were younger than she is.
“Every neighborhood that I go to I can tell you a childhood friend of mine that was murdered,” says Turner. “There is a playground down the bottom that I don’t take my children to because my little cousin was murdered on it in the middle of the day.”
And then there’s Maisha Meminger Crosby, an adjunct sociology professor at University of Maryland University College. She lives across the line in Baltimore County.
“If somebody two blocks over is hurting, right, it hurts the entire neighborhood,” says Crosby.
As the women hit the streets, Joyce drives to Frederick Avenue to talk to the young men standing on the corners.
“This is my journey every day where nobody wants to talk to the drug boys,” says Joyce. “ I’ve been on the corners that are considered to be the corners.”
Marvin Kosh is on the corner of Frederick and Collins avenues. He’s 27 and lost his brother, Maurice, to gun violence last year. Kosh says he doesn’t worry so much for his own safety.
“I’m more worried about them…the kids,” says Kosh as a small child walks up to him. “That’s my little cousin. Mar. He’s four about to be five.”
“I’m not four, I’m three,” argues Mar.
“Alright well three, my bad,” replies Kosh.
Joyce moves on to the next corner, also worrying about the kids.
“If I could just get one from putting a gun down, I did it,” says Joyce. “If I could just save one mother from feeling the pain that so many mothers in this city…they’re feeling that same pain.”
Across the street from Kosh is Bmore Fresh Barbershop and Salon. In the window sits a Baltimore Ceasefire poster. Joyce enters to talk to the shopowner, Enre. Enre says gun violence is bad for business; he has lost seven customers so far this year.
“I’m not one to protest but I can do my part while a young guy sits in my chair,” says Enre. “Who I can see is going in the wrong direction.”
Next store to Enre is Maurice Taylor, the owner of Taylor’s Market and 47-year-resident of Baltimore.
“Over the years I’ve watch young men grow up to 16 or 17-years-old and then they are gone,” says Taylor. “I’ve seen that happen maybe 10 or 15 times.”
Joyce continues down to the next corner and the next shopowner.
She’s starting at 2 p.m. Friday, organizing a mile-long human chain down Edmonson Avenue from Hilton Street to Cooks Lane.