BALTIMORE — Just outside Douglass Homes in East Baltimore, Safe Streets organizers find a new recruit in 60-year-old Verronda Smith.
“Stop shooting in my neighborhood and stop killing in my neighborhood! I’m tired of it!” shouted Smith. “I’ve been there 14 years. I’ve seen over 30 murders in my neighborhood just right there.”
There are 10 different Safe Streets sites in Baltimore representing 10 different neighborhoods and they step in where police and elected officials cannot---trying to reach the potential triggermen of tomorrow.
“We’ve been down that road,” said Sandtown Site Director Greg Marshburn. “We know the pitfalls and the traps in the road so we walk them down before they actually get there. So we explain your life is going to change when you shoot that gun. Your life is going to change as you know it. Every ambulance you hear, you’re going to think it’s the police. Every knock on your door, you’re going to think it’s the police so your life changes as you know it.”
The goal is to have every Safe Streets site pull together with the others and to recruit as many as 40 percent more citizens to join in the campaign.
Citizens, like themselves, who know what’s at stake.
“I couldn’t save my little brother when he was killed, but I guarantee I’m going to give my life to save your son,” said Brooklyn Site Director Corey Winfield.
But it will take everyone, if they’re to make this the safest summer in Baltimore's history.
“Not in my hood! Not on my block! Enough is enough! The shootings gotta stop!” chanted the crowd.
“We don’t want mothers burying children this summer,” said K Bain, an anti-violence organizer who traveled from New York City to help launch the campaign. “We don’t want to see one-year-olds and four-year-olds being shot this summer. We don’t want any grandparents crying over violence and senseless violence this summer.”
Organizers say their work won’t be over until they’ve reached every neighborhood in the city.