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'The heart and soul of Safe Streets' murdered in Baltimore on Sunday

Posted at 5:08 PM, Jan 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 17:17:42-05

BALTIMORE — He worked to make our streets safer and sadly, he's now lost his life to gun violence.

Dante Tater Barksdale — a leader with Safe Streets Baltimore was killed this morning in Southeast Baltimore.

"Tater is everything. Tater is everything you wanna be in this world," said friend Erricka Bridgeford.

At about 11:17 a.m., Southeast District officers responded to the 200 block of Douglas Court for a shooting.
When officers arrived, they found Barksdale shot in the head. He was taken to Johns Hopkins where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

"People should know that Tater was a beam of light," said Bridgeford.

Bridgeford, the co-founder of Baltimore Ceasefire 365, has know him for about 20 years as they worked to end the viscous cycle of violence.

"His voice never got quiet about what Baltimore needs, each individual life needs," said Bridgeford.

He worked to address the root causes of violence and helped people make different choices.

"Making sure that people had opportunities while he’s around, on his watch, to have conflict in ways where everyone can leave with their life intact," said Bridgeford.

Though she's grieving, Bridgeford knows his work for Baltimore isn’t done and she’s ready to keep going for him.

"We have not been left alone. Not by Tater. We have not been left alone. We got a strong warrior on our side now and it’s gonna hurt but we gotta stay girded up and just be present enough that we can hear his guidance and follow it," said Bridgeford.

She is working with his family to schedule a Sacred Space ritual where he was killed.

Anyone with information regarding this murder is asked to call detectives at (410) 396-2100 or remain anonymous by calling Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7lockup.

Baltimore Police are also offering a $7,000 reward for tips leading to an arrest in the killing of Barksdale.

Mayor Brandon Scott issued the following statement:

“My heart is broken with the loss of my friend Dante Barksdale, a beloved leader in our community who committed his life to saving lives in Baltimore. He was the heart and soul of Safe Streets, where he worked for 9 years. His death is a major loss to Safe Streets, the communities they serve, and the entire City of Baltimore. I send my deepest condolences and prayers to Dante’s family in this tragic time.

While I am devastated by the loss of my Brother in the fight to save lives in Baltimore, I will not let those who chose to violently take his life dampen the light of his work. The work that Dante did, and the work that so many in Safe Streets and other street-based organizations do to actively interrupt violence, is critical to my priority of reducing violence and making Baltimore’s neighborhoods safer.

Safe Streets and other community-based violence interventions are effective. They save lives. Dante’s work saved lives. This is a sobering reminder of how dangerous this frontline work is. We must be steadfast in our commitment to continuing this work, investing in it, and making it more effective for a safer Baltimore.”

Shantay Jackson, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement also issued the following statement:

“Dante was not only a respected Safe Streets team member, but a beloved friend to so many in Baltimore. He turned his life around and worked tirelessly for nearly a decade to prevent gun violence in our communities by working with those who were at the highest risk of being a shooter or the victim of shooting. Our office mourns this senseless loss of life with the rest of Baltimore City and is committed to honoring his life and his light by continuing to work to end gun violence in our city once and for all.”

Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison released the following statement:

“The men and women of the Baltimore Police Department offer our heartfelt condolences to the family of Dante Barksdale. His work in outreach, mediating conflicts and reducing gun violence in our city was invaluable and he embodied a message of redemption and peace to the many young people of our city.”