Community advocates are outraged over yet another teen who has been murdered in Baltimore.
A 16-year-old Patterson High School student was shot just before dismissal Monday at a nearby Southeast Baltimore park. Over the past eight months, at least a half dozen Baltimore City Public School students were gunned down.
Now, community advocates are asking the never-ending question of what to do to fix what some describe as a public health emergency regarding the impact of gun violence on the city’s youth.
Flags flew at half-staff on Tuesday to honor Izaiah Carter, who was killed Monday afternoon.
Advocates say that the city needs to dig deeper into the real issue, which starts way before a trigger is ever pulled.
“Systems failing people, decades of blatant disregard for the quality of people’s lives,” Ericka Alston Buck, from Trey Way Multi-treatment Services, said. “So this young person gets murdered - and we have the parents and the grandparents in this multi-generational household.”
Another Baltimore community, and teachers, are grieving the death of a high school student.
“To be an educator in Baltimore City, your last job is to teach them how to read or write,” Buck said. “You have to be a social worker. You got to be a probation agent. You got to be a security guard. So, now this teacher has lost this person they’ve invested everything in.”
That vicious cycle of death, grief and trauma brings us back to square one, yet again, about how to tackle to the problem, Buck said.
“Violence is a direct result of hurt people navigating their hurt the way they’ve seen it done,” she said.
Buck said this goes beyond the bullet and starts with decades of systems failing people and the blatant disregard for the quality of human life in Black and brown communities.
“Why are these people out in our neighborhoods,” Buck said. “They’re not in Roland Park. They’re not in Canton. They’re not in Fells. But go to the corner of Pennsylvania and North Avenue and try to go to the store and get a loaf of bread, you’re going to be offered every drug you can buy, a weapon and we want our children to walk through that and go to school, behave and learn.”
The irony of that scenario meets opportunity right here and now.
Buck said she’s a proponent of making the arrests needed and treating people’s issues with mental health and trauma-informed care.
She believes the partnership between Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates and Mayor Brandon Scott is a reason for optimism about the city’s path forward.
“So Black men are in a position to help Black males, our number victims are Black males, our number one trigger pullers are Black males,” Buck said.
In addition to trauma-informed approaches to the city’s gun violence among Baltimore’s youth, there need to be better ways to safely report info about crimes, according to advocates. The appropriate arrests and investments into the lives of children and neighborhoods they live in, sometimes in survival mode, need to be made, advocates said.