Baltimore residents are hoping a second attempt at a citywide cease-fire will hold this weekend, as members of the community are growing increasingly desperate to slow the relentless pace of the murders in the city.
On Friday, Baltimore police announced the city had reached the grim milestone of 300 murders in 2017 according to the Baltimore Sun. The city is on track to surpass last year’s record of 318 homicides. But activists like Baltimore native Erricka Bridgeford say they are determined to stop the cycle of violence — if only for 72 hours.
In August, Bridgeford started "Baltimore Cease Fire," and helped organize the first effort for a nonviolent weekend. The tenuous peace was tragically short lived when two people were fatally shot within hours of one another.
“It’s a hopeless feeling sometimes, helpless, more than hopeless really, that you’re doing the work and people are still dying,” she told NBC-affiliate WBAL.
But she is hopeful her second effort, which began at 12:01 a.m. Friday, will hold. She is also hopeful this cease-fire will be different because she’s been assured by people who have committed violence that they will respect her call for peace.
As the weekend approached, Bridgeford walked the city blocks handing out flyers and inviting residents to one of nearly a dozen community events and activities planned throughout the city. Together with other local activists, she's organized basketball tournaments, a yoga class, and art installations in the hopes of uniting the community around the cause for peace.
Bridgeford said her life has been marred by gun violence since she was 12 years old — losing a brother, a stepson, a cousin to gun violence and too many friends to keep count.
According to the Baltimore Sun, more than 90 percent of the homicides in Baltimore are a result of shootings, and more than 90 percent of the victims have been black boys and men between the ages of 18 and 30.
But it wasn't until her own son began talking about the impact the homicides had on his life, that Bridgeford decided to try to make a change.
“At 45, I feel the way people in their 80s feel when you look around and a lot of people are gone already,” she said. But she's determined not to give up and has vowed to continue hosting citywide calls for peace until something changes.
"We're going to keep doing it until we don't need to do it anymore," she said.