City's ceasefire broken, but events go on
The 72-hour Baltimore ceasefire ended Sunday night, broken four times by shootings over the weekend. Nonetheless, organizers said they hoped to continue their movement going forward.
It began at 5 p.m. Friday with a 12-hour barbecue and resource fair at the corner of Erdman Avenue and Belair Road, one of 40 events scheduled for the weekend. This one was led by Out for Justice, a non-profit that helps people seeking legal advice.
"We wanted to come to the areas where crime was happening the most," explained Nicole Hanson, a lead organizer with the group. "So we wanted to come right to the neighborhoods where the violence was happening and bring the resources to them."
Signs on the brick wall of one building proclaimed, "Expand Expungement," "Mental Health Professionals," and "Child Support Information."
Nearby Shorty, of Shorty’s Backyard BBQ was serving up hot dogs, hamburgers, and ribs.
"That is my ceasefire thing," he said. "I feed the people. That is my contribution to the cause."
Shorty said everyone in the community should play a role by "showing the good in the community so that the young adults and the kids can see the positive."
"If they just see the murders and the killings everyday they are just going to keep perpetuating that hysteria," he said.
And so Friday night of the ceasefire was a success and so was Saturday morning. Then at 5:03pm Saturday --41-hours into the ceasefire—police patrolling in the 1300 block of Sargeant Street heard shots and found a 24-year-old man with gunshot wounds.
Almost five hours later, at 9:59 p.m., police were called to the 1600 block of Gertrude Court, where they found a 37-year-old man who had been shot. Both men died shortly after arrival at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Shock Trauma unit.
Sunday afternoon Erricka Bridgeford, the lead ceasefire organizer, called out the names of those two men at a vigil and rally at the Real News Network a block from city hall.
"The first name is Tray, and the second name is Dante also known as E-ay," she said.
Then she and other organizers invited community members gathered there to read off the list of the 208 homicide victims this year five at a time. It took almost a half hour to call the names, as the list was at least ten pages long.
Afterward, Bridgeford thanked the community members for their support and told them something that might have surprised them.
"Let me tell you who has been most supportive to me outside of family and friends," she said. "The Baltimore City Police Department. Take that how you want it."
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said in a statement released Sunday night that he is proud of the community initiative and is looking forward to future events for the ceasefire.
"Success is measured on sustainability, not instantaneous results," he wrote.
Mayor Catherine Pugh and State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby attended the rally and vigil and issued statements of support later.
Bridgeford and ceasefire organizers say they want to continue fighting to reduce the violence with Ceasefire 365. They don’t have a plan yet, she said. But “what we do know is that we want it to address all the sides of violence.”
Organizers and community residents are expected to gather again Monday evening to review the weekend and plan for future events.