LA handful of Baltimore residents are organizing a grassroots ceasefire campaign for early next month in an effort to have a murder-free weekend in a city plagued by gun violence.
Six community activists are visiting drug corners and asking young men to set aside their grudges for 72 hours, according to the Baltimore Sun. Their message is clear: “Nobody kill anybody.”
“Everyone who gets in my car leaves with a flyer and a speech,” said 44-year-old Erricka Bridgeford, a professional mediator and Uber driver who lost her brother to gun violence a decade ago.
“Somebody was plotting on this weekend,” she said. “Now they’re not going to do it because of a rumbling in their soul.”
At least 188 people have been killed in Baltimore this year. Organizers of the ceasefire, slated for Friday, Aug. 4 to Sunday, Aug. 6, say they realize a violence free weekend is a tall order. Bridgeford says if the effort deters even one murder, it’ll be a success.
“I’ve seen the momentum build over the past several weeks,” said Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith. “We are all in this together, and we’re 1,000 percent supportive of the efforts.”
Organizers are spreading the message through T-shirts, flyers, and a Facebook page. More than 600 people have pledged to honor the ceasefire.
“You just talk to them like they’re your little brother,” said Bridgeford.
Baltimore is on pace to surpass last year’s 318 homicides. In 2015, 344 people were killed.
“Communities feel like they can’t do things for themselves. They don’t have a voice. They don’t feel heard,” said Cassandra Crifasi, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins-Baltimore Collaborative for Violence Reduction. “This effort seems to me like the people most affected by violence are standing up and saying, ‘We’re not going to take this anymore.’”