TRNN’s extensive coverage of the 72 hour ceasefire: despite two homicides, Baltimore activists and residents remain resolute in their community-lead efforts to build hope in the face of violence.
Eze Jackson: The Baltimore cease fire weekend started with optimism. Tawanda Jones: We all we got! Group: We all we need! Tawanda Jones: We all we got! Group: We all we need! Tawanda Jones: We all we got! Group: We all we need! Eze Jackson: And ended with hope: hope that the 72 hour effort to end murder in Baltimore had done more than just call attention to violence, but also connect the people who suffered through it in ways that had not existed before. Sharona Rhodes: My son had this picture over his bed. It was when my son passed away, and Miss Kim, that was my first time meeting her, she came to my house because of my son, and I gave her this picture. This was over his bed before he passed away. So, it’s so eerie. Eze Jackson: They were that close, yeah? Sharona Rhodes: Yeah it was four of them, really, that was close, really good kids too. Eze Jackson: Throughout the weekend, Baltimore residents gathered all over the city to show their support as organizers gave their all to keep spirits high and engage as many as possible. Kevin “Ogun” Beasley: We think that murder is the issue. It’s not. So then people we’re debating like, “That shit ain’t gonna work.” Right? At the end of the day, they not doing no work! So how are you shooting at me for trying to solve a problem when you’re not doing anything? What I’m saying is, if you’re still alive, and your spirit is still alive, please turn that shit back on. Like, turn it back on 10. We are all we have. This is one event in these last three days. There were events all through this city. Eze Jackson: On Friday, supporters gathered in northeast Baltimore to start what they hoped would be 72 hours without a single homicide. They spent the whole night outside, offering food, legal aide and mental health services. Nicole Mundell: We can no longer keep asking folks to come to us. We have to come to them. Eze Jackson: It was a call for peace that sought healing. Not police or punishment. Tawanda Jones: We’re trying to basically take our own community back and tell everybody to drop their guns, and violence is not the answer. Eze Jackson: A theme that continued throughout the weekend as participants talked about the root cause of violence that went beyond the political rhetoric and fear. Nicole Mundell: People are violent because they’re stressed out. People are violent because they can’t pay their rent. They’re not getting adequate healthcare. They don’t have the right information around housing. They feel that they can’t talk up for themselves as a tenant because they don’t have good credit so the landlord’s getting over on them. Why? People have criminal cases, petty criminal cases, that they just don’t have enough information about. Adam Jackson: One of the problems when people are talking about violence in Baltimore is that they talk about it in a vacuum, like it just popped up. And they look at … and because of the racism and the anti-blackness that surrounds our conversation, it always devolves into black on black crime, we always kill each other, et cetera. And one of the things that’s essential is that looking at the conditions that people are living in, what’s causing the violence in the first place. It’s not just that people are savages and they want to murder each other just because, Baltimore is a city where people are living in criminal conditions, and to produce the situations where people are trying to survive, and then when those conditions are produced, any group of people would respond how black people would respond. Eze Jackson: Activists mourn lives lost to violence in Baltimore. Tawanda Jones: When my brother was executed, it changed my life forever. I already know how people feel when your loved one is murdered regardless if it’s law enforcement officers or someone on the street, a murderer is a murderer. Somebody’s life is snatched forever. Eze Jackson: And also talked about the solutions that could combat this violence in the future. Poet Moonchild: If I had a chance to change some of the things, I think that I would focus more on education. That’s where I would focus more. More on education because a lot of the people who have committed the crimes, not only do they feel as though there is limited resources. A lot of them aren’t educationally inclined to know what resources that they do have. Eze Jackson: By Sunday afternoon, supporters gathered at the “Shot Tower”, a historic landmark in Baltimore for a peace walk and vigil, and later, at March Funeral Home, a staple in Baltimore that buries many victims of gun violence. Two homicides had occurred over the weekend: a fact that failed to dim their spirit or sense that something had changed. On hand was Mayor Catherine Pugh, who called for unity. Catharine Pugh: Back in January, I said that people need to get into the action, because the city can’t do it by itself. The police department can’t do it by itself. It really is going to take the uprising from the community. Eze Jackson: But also acknowledged the city had to do more to help people heal. Catharine Pugh: And so we’ve got a lot of new things that are coming about, because I too recognize that there’s been a neglect of neighborhoods and communities. There’s no reason for North Avenue, or Druid Hill Avenue or Druid Heights to look the way that it does, or Park Heights Avenue. To me, that’s a sign of neglect for decades, and we’re going to change that. Eze Jackson: Finally, supporters marched downtown to the headquarters of the Real News. Present were two mothers, who had lost their sons to violence. They talked about their pain, sense of loss, and worse, isolation. Kim Biggus : Coming here, it makes me feel like, “Okay …” Female: This is our first time all of us. This is our first time here. Kim Biggus: This is my first time. Eze Jackson: When did your son pass? Female: Last February 3rd, and I’ve pretty much turned into a person who just stays in the house all the time. Eze Jackson: A suffering in silence, they say the ceasefire had changed. An experience of community coming together for a purpose that for many is the beginning towards a goal of redefining how Baltimore thinks about, and works to stop violence. With Dharna Noor, this is Eze Jackson for the Real News. —————————————