In Baltimore, the abbreviation R.I.P. is used very often regarding our loved ones who have been slain in these brutal streets. Being born and raised here, I am no stranger to gun violence and the effects it has on a particular area and the people that occupy it. In the recent years, the sight of death has become more accessible thanks, and no thanks, to social media. Some say it is a tactic to make people numb to seeing death and violence and it has worked in a way. Death appears to have become a routine in Baltimore. Every day someone dies from being shot or stabbed and I feel terrible about every death that I hear about, but in the back of mind I know hours later there will be another victim. I am one of those people who lost hope in our authoritative system a long time ago.
It wasn’t until last year that I started to actually feel the hurt that others in the city feel every time they lose a loved one in its entirety. Shit hit the fan as I lost two friends last year to gun violence and a loved one this year to the same thing. My heart was singing a song that all of Baltimore probably knows. Tears run down my face at funerals while I try to figure out how we can make it better. I lost hope, but Erricka Bridgeford, Ogun Gordy, Jakia Jason, Darnyle Wharton, Michelle Shellers, and Ellen Gee did not. These amazing Baltimoreans are the organizers of the Baltimore Ceasefire, a movement that is part of an even bigger plan. Baltimore Ceasefire was a 72-hour proposal to cease gun violence throughout Baltimore. Despite the naysayers, hope was and still is instilled in these organizers. We went 24 hours with no murders, and 41 hours in, the Ceasefire method “failed” according to other media outlets who seemed to be delighted to report that someone was murdered. What they forgot to report was how the Baltimore Cease Fire brought a lot of residents together, or how the organizers showed up to the murder scene to comfort bystanders. They didn’t mention how Baltimore Ceasefire sparked many events around the city that promoted emotional healing and pure enjoyment. So did it really fail?
I was able to attend the peace walk that occurred on the last day. I felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders just from being embraced by the positive energy around me. It wasn’t until the end of the peace walk that I realized that it is okay to grieve, it is okay not to be okay, and it is okay to release. When we read the names of all of the people slain this year alone, to see the faces and tears falling was enough to lift the numbness I have been experiencing for a long time in regards to death.
Baltimore Ceasefire didn’t stop at 72 hours as a meeting for Baltimore Ceasefire 365 followed the next day. There are only two choices here; either be a part of the problem or be a part of the solution. The organizers who are no strangers to the violence that plague Baltimore streets chose to be part of the solution. Will you join?