Shots break ‘cease-fire’

One man is killed and an­other wounded as Bal­ti­more tries for just 3 days of non­vi­o­lence.

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION - By Jeff Barker Barker writes for the Bal­ti­more Sun.

BAL­TI­MORE — Or­ga­niz­ers and sup­port­ers of a 72hour Bal­ti­more “cease-fire” ini­tia­tive marched and prayed Satur­day, even as they ac­knowl­edged that their fer­vent pleas for peace could not halt the re­lent­less pace of shoot­ings and killings in the city.

On the sec­ond day of a com­mu­nity ini­tia­tive aimed at stop­ping — or at least slow­ing — gun vi­o­lence, Bal­ti­more­ans held vig­ils, cook­outs and other events. Some stood on cor­ners with signs read­ing “Bal­ti­more Cease­fire” or “Free hugs.”

But even as cease-fire events con­tin­ued late Satur­day af­ter­noon, po­lice re­ported two shoot­ings, one of them fa­tal. A 24-year-old man was shot in the Pig­town neigh­bor­hood around 5 p.m. and pro­nounced dead at the Mary­land Shock Trauma Cen­ter.

Ear­lier, cease-fire par­tic­i­pants had said the goal was to help unify the city.

“This is to let the peo­ple in the com­mu­nity know that there’s hope,” said Ty­rone Boyette, who was part of a somber walk in which par­tic­i­pants stopped at each of the sites in a West Bal­ti­more neigh­bor­hood where 11 men were killed in re­cent months.

“We know it’s not going to stop the mur­ders, but it’s a start,” Boyette said. “If we can get more peo­ple in­volved and we can start hav­ing stuff for younger peo­ple to do, that’s how we’re going to stop the peo­ple from killing each other.”

Boyette was joined by about 150 peo­ple in the neigh­bor­hood sur­round­ing Frederick Dou­glass High School and Mon­dawmin Mall, where po­lice and some res­i­dents had squared off in 2015 af­ter the death of Fred­die Gray. Gray died of in­juries suf­fered while in po­lice cus­tody. Or­ga­niz­ers of this week­end’s events picked the area in part be­cause it be­came part of the city’s pub­lic pro­file dur­ing the ri­ots.

At the site of each killing, the Rev. Scott Slater — who works with the Epis­co­pal Dio­cese of Mary­land — an­nounced the name of the vic­tim, the date of his death and his age.

“Eter­nal rest grant to him, O Lord,” Slater would say in prayer at each stop, re­plac­ing the “him” with the names of re­cent vic­tims, who were as young as 18.

“And let per­pet­ual light shine upon him,” the marchers would an­swer back.

The sites were so close to­gether that the group of­ten walked just a block or so to get from one to the next.

Bal­ti­more com­mu­ni­ties have long held events to memo­ri­al­ize and call at­ten­tion to shoot­ing vic­tims. At the be­gin­ning of each year, an or­ga­ni­za­tion called Moth­ers of Mur­dered Sons and Daugh­ters United holds a pub­lic meet­ing and reads aloud the names of ev­ery per­son killed in the city in the pre­vi­ous year.

The cease-fire ini­tia­tive came from Er­ricka Bridge­ford, 44, and other com­mu­nity lead­ers who cre­ated a blunt mes­sage: “No­body kill any­body.” By the end of July, vi­o­lence had al­ready re­sulted in a record 204 homi­cides in the city.

“The Bal­ti­more Cease­fire was not de­clared by any one or­ga­ni­za­tion,” or­ga­niz­ers wrote on their web­site. “This cease­fire is the prod­uct of Bal­ti­more res­i­dents not only be­ing ex­hausted by homi­cides, but be­liev­ing that Bal­ti­more can have a mur­der-free week­end if ev­ery­one takes re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

A num­ber of groups were rep­re­sented Satur­day. They in­cluded Al­pha Kappa Al­pha Soror­ity Inc., the Epis­co­pal Dio­cese of Mary­land and Mary­lan­ders to Pre­vent Gun Vi­o­lence. Some elected of­fi­cials also par­tic­i­pated.

“It’s solemn,” said Shelly Het­tle­man, a state law­maker from Bal­ti­more County, who joined the marchers on the clear, un­sea­son­ably cool morn­ing. “I mean, it’s shock­ing when you’re stand­ing in the area where you know some­one lost their life.

“You look around, and there are some boarded-up houses. But then in an­other house, there are men and women sit­ting on the stoop, and you re­al­ize this is their neigh­bor­hood and their com­mu­nity. And it’s re­ally im­por­tant for them to know that out­side of their im­me­di­ate com­mu­nity, that peo­ple are fo­cused and care a lot about what hap­pens here.”

Po­lice were search­ing Satur­day for wit­nesses af­ter the fa­tal shoot­ing. Of­fi­cials said the vic­tim in the non­fa­tal shoot­ing in the Park Heights neigh­bor­hood was a 22-year-old man who showed up at a hos­pi­tal with a wound to the arm.

More cease-fire ac­tiv­i­ties were sched­uled for Sun­day, in­clud­ing church events and a peace walk and vigil.

“It’s sad that some­times you get used to do­ing causes like this,” Boyette said. “But the more peo­ple that par­tic­i­pate, the less peo­ple that are out there com­mit­ting a crime.”

Karl Mer­ton Fer­ron Bal­ti­more Sun

BAL­TI­MORE­ANS took to the streets af­ter a record 204 homi­cides by July’s end.

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