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Group seeks to help reduce gun violence in Baltimore

Baltimore begins week of non-violence events
Posted at 6:32 PM, Oct 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-12 18:40:48-04

Baltimore is one of 40 cities across the country taking part in a week of non-violence.


It runs Saturday, October 13th through Sunday, October 21st with screening, an essay contest, and even an open mic night.


It's a week that organizers hope will bring people in the community together for positive change.


Baltimore has the highest number of homicides per capita in the country, and many say enough is enough.


Having lost both her fiancé and his brother to gun violence, people like Jasmine Jennings are more than just a statistic. Those deaths also mean Jennings' son also lost his father and his uncle.


"I’m very fed up with it, because I think every child, should have both of their parents, regardless if they’re together or not together," Jennings said. 


Black Women for Positive Change Baltimore co-chair Crystal Francis said "We shouldn’t live in a community and be afraid to come outside, we shouldn’t live in a community and not know if my husband or my wife is going to come home tomorrow."


It's why Black Women for Positive Change is asking people in the community to be part of the solution. Francis helped organize a week long series of events in Baltimore focusing on how to de-escalate violence.


"We want community members, teachers to teach this in the classroom, that’s why we incorporated the essay contest, we asked teachers to screen the film in the class, and then to provide the essay contest as a homework assignment, because sometimes, students aren’t going to participate, unless they’re forced," Francis said.


Jennings believes many of the issues of violence stem from a lack of income, opportunity, as well as a structured home life and education for kids.


"When the school systems don’t provide structure, for them, wholeheartedly, I’m a firm believer that structure in the classroom, structure in the authority piece, administration, or good administration overhead is the key to a good school system. A good school is going to be pivotable to our children, and that’s not happening," Jennings said.


"I want to target the youth because sometimes I think we start too late. I also think that we’re reactive instead of proactive. You can’t end violence in a week. We want people to start incorporating non-violent behavior every day, because when you know better you do better," Francis said.


It's something that Jennings son Erik Queen, Jr. is already inspired to do because of the loss of his father Erik Sr.


"It pushes me to do better in life, so that I guess that when I grow up, and I do what I do, and I have what I want, I guess I can just say that I’m doing it for him," Queen said.


The hope is to make a difference in reducing the amount of violent crime in the city that's tearing families apart.


"It takes a village to raise one, and it’s very unfortunate that some children have to go through this because people have no filter, as to what they choose to do," Jennings said.


"Everybody saying this about their father, and saying that, wish their father did this, wish their father did that, they don’t like them, but I’m just like, I wish I had a father, I wish I had a father," Queen said.


Even though those who may need to learn the most about de-escalation and anger management may not attend the events, organizers hope that those who do, will spread the word throughout their community. 


"A lot of people are not going to want to come sit in a classroom to learn about conflict resolution. But, when we start changing the culture of violence, meaning changing the way we do film, changing our music, promoting positivity and peace, in our everyday activity, it’s going to impact the person that didn’t come to our event," Francis said.