If only the problem of violence in our cities were this easy to solve.
The Baltimore Sun reports on a 44 year old mother Erricka Bridgeford’s simple message to her city: “Nobody kill anybody.”
Forget your grudges for one weekend, she urges the young men she finds. Help bring a 72-hour truce to a city besieged by gun violence.
“It’s a citywide call,” she tells them, “but I’m talking to you.”
Bridgeford and other neighborhood leaders are drumming up support for a three-day ceasefire the first weekend of August to quell Baltimore’s violence. She admits that such peace is a tall order for a city that’s seen 188 killings this year.
Organizers aim to stop the shooting from Friday, Aug. 4, through Sunday, Aug. 6, with a unified and blunt message: “Nobody kill anybody.”
Their message has been printed on T-shirts and flyers. They designed a website and held community meetings. More than 1,600 people visited their Facebook page. The grass-roots campaign has swelled since it began in May.
“I’ve seen the momentum build over the past several weeks,” said T.J. Smith, spokesman for Baltimore police. “We are all in this together, and we’re 1,000 percent supportive of the efforts.”
There can be no doubt or debate that this movement is coming from a good place in people’s hearts but its impact is likely to be minimal at best. The problem of violence doesn’t come from a scarcity of people saying that killing is bad. It comes from a broken culture in which people no longer care about the difference between good and evil. The moral foundations have been discarded, the nuclear family has been erased, and chaos has been the result.
In a way it’s similar to the radical feminist calls to “teach men not to rape.” It presupposes that people only do bad things because they haven’t been made aware that they are bad things.
More than 600 people have pledged to keep the peace, they wrote. Among them are some of the young men Bridgeford has met on the corners.
“You just talk to them like they’re your little brother,” she said.
A professional mediator, neighborhood volunteer and part-time Uber driver — “Everyone who gets in my car leaves with a flyer and a speech” — Bridgeford says her younger brother was gunned down a decade ago in Southwest Baltimore. His killer was never caught.
Next month’s ceasefire would prove successful if it deters a single shooting, she said. And she figures the movement has already saved a life somewhere.
“Somebody was plotting on this weekend,” she said. “Now they’re not going to do it because of a rumbling in their soul.”
The “if it saves one life” argument applies to this grass roots effort much better than to any of the tyrannical gun control laws for which similar arguments are used. However, making a real dent in the problem of urban gun violence is going to take a sustained effort from families determined to repair a broken culture and be vigilant against negative influences on their kids. It’s not a problem that will be fixed in a weekend. It may take generations.