When delivering surprising news about a place known for its bad news, it’s always good to lead with, “First, nobody died.”
Well, this surprising news is the case with Baltimore this past weekend. The historic city, plagued by gang-related homicides in recent years, known for anything but positive news regarding street violence, has just gone 72 hours without a reported murder. A dubious distinction, sure, but one that brings with it the hope of more to come.
Sadly, two previous ceasefire attempts in August and November 2017 were unsuccessful. In fact, November’s tragedy involved the murder of a Washington, D.C. police officer. Spoiling that ceasefire attempt, a suspect fired into the car off-duty officer Tony Mason Jr. was sitting in, killing him and injuring a female passenger.
Despite that tragedy, according to WJZ (and disregarding the frigid temperatures), victims affected by the violence along with other community members, otherwise known as Baltimore Ceasefire, hit the streets. They carried signs declaring their wish for a murder-free weekend in the city. This last weekend their prayers were answered with no reported homicides.
People understand they can’t count on the police department alone to combat city violence. In fact, that the police are less effective than they might otherwise be due to certain city policies that affect cops’ ability to fight crime is another area of contention that needs serious attention. Nevertheless, people in their community decided to, peacefully, take matters on themselves. Some of them even implored individual gang members to be peaceful.
One community member, Michael Haynie, said, “We can’t rely only on the police.” He is right to say this and should be admired for doing what he can to make his city safer. I don’t know how long the relative peace may last. After all, we’re dealing with people for whom violence has been a way of life. Still, hopefully, some of those who’ve engaged in violence will also see this murder-free weekend as a success. Perhaps, some may acquire a taste for non-violence.
Too much to hope for? Maybe, especially for this retired cop. But an end to gang violence has to start somewhere and sometime. How about in Baltimore this past weekend?