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Community in West Baltimore celebrates 365 days without a murder

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Posted at 5:52 PM, Jun 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-03 17:52:40-04

BALTIMORE — Friday was National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

Community members in a West Baltimore neighborhood said they are celebrating because it has been one year since they’ve had a murder in their community.

Many of the residents attributed Safe Streets as the reason for the success.

However, Safe Streets organizers said it’s not only their work in this community but the collaboration from people who live there is why they have been so successful.

Safe Streets Baltimore responds to recent gun violence in the city

Monique Mitchell, the Executive Director of Love Now, a community organization dedicated to helping victims of gun violence, said she grew up in the portion of Franklin Square that has gone 365 days without one homicide.

She said she has seen her fair share of murders and has even lost close loved ones in her community.

“This is a great way to start a summer and it’s Gun Violence Awareness Day," Mitchell said. "I want everybody to feel this joy and the success in this accomplishment. Growing up here on Monroe in Lafayette, seeing people who I knew that were murdered, multiple people in this area, so to go 365 days exactly and no one lose a life, I mean, that’s a strong testament to the Safe streets model."

Mitchell said she too started her fight to end gun violence in her community through her organization Love Now, and she attributes the work that Safe Streets has done and how the community has helped with this milestone of success.

“I think the Safe Streets models works. I’ve seen it work. I’ve seen the numbers that Ceasefire has done in Chicago," Mitchell said. "They brought it here and I remember Cherry Hill having the same success. It’s possible and it can be done but it takes all the stakeholders in the community, it takes the businesses, it takes the churches, it takes the community and the schools to all be apart and be on one accord."

WMAR-2 News asked Damien McNeil, the organizer of the Franklin Square Safe Streets site, if he believes they did anything different than any of the other surrounding Safe Street sites.

“We all do the same model identify, detect, interrupt intervene, change the norm in the community," McNeil said. "I think one of our successes is we do a lot of community engagement, and we were fortunate enough to be able to host two pop-ups a week."

That means twice a week they have all the Safe Street sites meets in this area to celebrate the small wins which allows them to build bonds and better relationships with people in the community.

“It’s not really a victory for just Safe Streets, it’s a victory for this whole community because the whole community played a part in this victory right here,” McNeil said.

Mitchell agrees.

“I think it’s the community taking ownership and not wanting homicides in their community,” Mitchell said.

This event took place at Kirby Lane Park in West Baltimore on Friday evening.

Families in the community celebrated 365 days without a homicide, alongside Safe Streets workers, enjoying food, music and activities for the kids.

This success is something many people hope to see continue in this area and hopefully adapt to other neighborhoods throughout Baltimore City as well.