Last night’s second annual 300 Men March to End Violence, from one end of North Avenue to the other, attracted about 250 marchers at any one time, but was not without a contingent of politicians and police brass.
Marchers of all ages walked from Hilton Parkway in West Baltimore to the Baltimore Cemetery in East Baltimore and back, a total of about 10 miles.
The first march last July – a reaction to a spike in shootings and homicides that lasted through January – attracted more than 600 marchers.
“Our numbers are down but we still have work to do, we’re still calling men out. It’s just an annual event to recharge the spirit of men in the city,” said march organizer Munir Bahar.
Several officials lauded the reduction in city murders (police report 104 homicides so far in 2014, compared to 122 last year), while others said more had to be done to make neighborhoods safe.
“This is Activism,” Mayor says
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake took time to criticize residents who simply carp about crime on social media or comment boards without doing anything about it.
“This is activism,” she told the marchers. “What you are doing today.”
She added in an interview, “That’s what this movement is, men coming together in the community saying enough is enough and that violence on our streets is unacceptable, the deaths on our streets of young black men is unacceptable.”
“Every single act of violence that occurs on our streets, to our children, to our women or to our brothers directly impacts each and every one of us,” added 7th District Councilman Nick Mosby, who helped organize last year’s march.
The organizers hope that a show of solidarity will encourage young people to put their guns down. Or in the words of Second District Councilman Brandon M. Scott:
“Men, remember the true work begins today. Every one of us must continue to be seen and heard in our communities. Every able-bodied man in Baltimore must be positively engaged in their community and, most importantly, in the lives of our young people. If a male is not meeting that standard, then they are not a man in the true sense of the word.”