A woman, who witnessed her first murder on the streets of Baltimore when she was 12, has started a 72-hour event aimed at creating conditions of non-violence in her Baltimore neighborhood.
Erricka Bridgeford came up with the idea for a weekend ceasefire called ‘Nobody Kill Anybody’ when her 19-year-old son alerted her to the recent spike in violence in Baltimore. Bridgeford knows the violence on Baltimore’s streets all too well, as her brother and step-son were both victims of murder.
“We have created a system where you arrest and punish people, but you do not heal the traumas that you caused,” Bridgeford said in an interview with RT. “America has a system that only believes that you can lock away problems and so that strategy does not really work. People need to be healed from inside out and locking them up does not do that.”
Bridgeford, joined by other activists, handed out flyers about peace to residents of the city. She asked them to commit to the ‘Nobody Kill Anybody’ truce and to pledge not to accelerate the violence that already exists in Baltimore.
Some laughed at her upon hearing the idea, but the majority of people were interested, she said. Many people spread the word, and soon gang leaders and members started to call her to tell her they would participate.
The city government and police department told NBC News that they support the initiative, but Bridgeford says that she chose not to reach out to them because people living in dangerous neighborhoods in Baltimore don’t trust the authorities.
“If you look all around this country and see that the way business is done is that some people have opportunities, some people never even know [they] exist” she told RT.
“I think there are systemic problems all over this country and Baltimore is not immune to that,” she said. She added that the police cannot struggle with all the problems alone as “there has to be something that systems are dismantled and restructured to address.”
The Baltimore Police have been the target of local criticism since April 2015, when Freddie Gray, 25, was killed while in police custody. Two videos have also emerged recently of two different incidents in which the police appear to be planting evidence.
Bridgeford knows this ceasefire won’t stop every single crime, but thinks it is a step in the right direction.
“We don’t think this is a cure,” she said, according to NBC News. “We don’t think this will even necessarily stop violence that weekend, but we know that some people have made promises that they won’t, and that just might save somebody’s life.”