Baltimore’s first CeaseFire weekend of 2021 is underway Saturday, with organizers of the event and supporters hoping to help bring an end to the relentless violence by focusing on all the good things and people the city has to offer.
While the urgency remains the same - the city has recorded 30 murders in the first five weeks of the year - organizers made some tweaks to its traditional format to deal with the reality of the ongoing pandemic. Saturday morning kicked off with a virtual “Speak Joy Over Baltimore” event, in which participants highlighted the people and places that make Baltimore much more than its crime rate.
A second virtual event took place later, in which participants created drawings and art to express their appreciation for the city and what it means to them and residents.
By early afternoon events moved outdoors, where Baltimore CeaseFire 365 co-founder Erricka Bridgeford and group members Ellen Gee and Darnyle Wharton led a group of walkers in the the Walbrook neighborhood of West Baltimore. There they met with leaders and members of community groups, including Baltimore Safe Streets.
Mayor Brandon Scott joined in the afternoon, and made clear he expects all the people of Baltimore to step up if the violence is going to end. He particularly challenged men to get out of the house and join the movement.
“If you are watching this on Facebook, wonder to yourself why you’re not here. Wonder why you are posting. Don’t post, walk. Don’t talk, walk,” Scott said. " Get out in the street .. with all of us who are fighting. .. We have to save this city together.”
As Bridgeford stood in front of a shop near the corner of Clifton Ave. in front of a crowd of supporters she said there is no reason to lose hope. issue.
“We can’t help but make it better. We got no excuses now,” Bridgeford said to the crowd.
This story will be updated.