BALTIMORE, MD- What was intended to be a weekend without violence and gunfire wound up becoming the most violent “Ceasefire” weekend to date.
Despite a call to put down guns for a 72-hour period, 15 people wound up being shot and four people were killed.
While these gestures are well-intended, it’s obvious that criminals don’t obey laws. So, why would they honor requests to end violence elsewhere?
Erricka Bridgeford helped establish the Baltimore Ceasefire weekends, which take place four times a year. With the string of shootings and deaths that transpired the past weekend, she marked it as the most violent Ceasefire weekend they’ve ever had:
“Life was being celebrated all over the city, while we were also getting notifications that we were losing people.”
When speculating about why there was so much violence that plagued the weekend intended to place a halt to violent crime, Bridgeford assumed it was because people just haven’t heard about their cause.
“We know there are over 600,000 people in Baltimore and a lot of them don’t even know when a ceasefire is or heard of us. We have a lot of work to do to inform people, because what we do know is that when people know there’s a Ceasefire they actually honor it.”
— Hostile Takeover (@PanicScare) February 13, 2020
Optimism is a great thing, but there’s literally no way to tell if people actually honor these Ceasefire calls because they’ve been spoken aloud. Bridgeford even acknowledged the fact that the good the Ceasefire weekends bring isn’t measurable:
“So it’s easy to quantify how many people got shot this weekend. It’s easy to quantify how many people got killed since the year started.
What’s not easy to quantify is how many lives are saved? How many people didn’t die or get shot, because of all of the good work people are doing in Baltimore.”
The violence spanned through "Ceasefire Weekend," a grassroots movement to spread the non-violence message. https://t.co/otCT4PYKbe
— WJZ | CBS Baltimore (@wjz) February 10, 2020
First, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with driving awareness to the harm gun violence does in communities, and obviously Bridgeford is coming from a well-intentioned place.
However, just because intentions are good, it doesn’t absolve them from being naïve.
For those determined to enact any kind of violence – which directly conflicts with laws established forbidding them – it’s doubtful that someone saying to “stop shooting for three days” will magically make the violence disappear.
It’s unlikely someone who has shot and killed people in cold blood would hear about the Ceasefire weekend and go “Huh, I never looked at it like that before!” That kind of anecdote might work in movies, but compelling change isn’t that easy.
Mayor Jack Young, while disturbed at the level of violence that happened in the city, believes that the Ceasefire weekends are effective:
“Those efforts are working. It could be worse. They do a great job of advocating no shootings and stop the violence. We just have to do more and really get to the systemic issue that’s facing all of this criminal activity.”
If things were really working overall in Baltimore, then the city wouldn’t be listed as only safer than 2 percent of all the U.S. cities. However, the noting that the mayor made regarding trying to find the underlying issue fueling criminal activity is worth working on.
NEW: Gov. Hogan responds to recent violence in Baltimore, "Even as city residents are pleading for a ceasefire, the out-of-control violence in Baltimore City remains relentless. Eight people have been murdered since Friday." https://t.co/0mR8ZJKwFw
— FOX Baltimore (@FOXBaltimore) February 11, 2020
One person who wants to see the crime drop, and fast, is Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. While some hope that asking people to stop shooting each other will achieve results, Governor Hogan errs more on better policing:
“It really takes some leadership in the city to start getting tough. There’s no crime plan, there’s no continuity and it’s just simply unacceptable that people are being shot and killed in the streets every single day, and people are fed up with it.”
While we’re hardly admonishing Bridgeford’s sentiments in the Ceasefire efforts, it’s going to take a lot more than just asking people to stop shooting.
And it wasn’t just Baltimore.
Last weekend, nine people…nine…were shot and killed in Chicago, the most homicides in any weekend this year and the most in a February weekend in 18 years.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot (should be lightweight) said that despite the carnage on the streets of the city this past weekend, she is confident that the police department’s leadership will “rise to the occasion.”
“This weekend’s crime numbers, where we saw so many homicides, and we saw a lot of shootings, were incredibly distressing to me. I’m not going to shy away from that,” Lightfoot said.
“I had a lot of very difficult conversations with CPD leadership over the course of the weekend, Monday and yesterday, and I’ve challenged them that they have to be proactive.”
On Tuesday, Lightfoot held a weekly accountability meeting with police administrators, and said that it was the first time that all 25 district commanders were called in.
The shooting spree last weekend came after 2019 was the third consecutive year that both homicides and shootings had dropped in Chicago. Lightfoot said she make it clear to department leadership that they have to use every available resource to prevent a significant increase in gun violence going forward.
“If they do not act in a proactive way to use the tools that are available to them—including community partners—that we are going to have a mess on our hands that eclipses some of the worst years of violence that we’ve seen in recent memory.
I’m not about to let that happen, and I hope they understood the challenge that’s before them,” she said. “I’m confident that they will rise to the occasion because they have to.”
Lightfoot dismissed suggestions that a crackdown on police overtime was any basis for the increase in violence over last weekend.
Wondering why Chicago has a shooting problem? We did a story about just this issue a couple of weeks back. It’s called a revolving door criminal justice system.
Last Nov. 4, Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans said, during budget hearings,
“It’s not by magic that we haven’t had any horrible incidents occur using this new [affordable bail] system.”
Evans will never be confused for a prophet.
Since that date, seven different people who are currently facing murder charges were previously freed under the “affordable bail” system.
Crimes that they had been arrested for included charges such as Class X felony armed violence, unlawful use of a weapon, and repeated use of a weapon by a felon. You know, those so-called “non-violent” offenses the woke criminal justice reform nitwits keep talking about.
Let’s dig into some of these cases where so-called “non-violent” offenders were let back out on the street and people are dead because of it.
A year ago, in February 19-year-old Armando Lopez was charged with felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, felony possession of a controlled substance, and driving on a revoked license. This was after Chicago police found a rifle in his vehicle. Judge David Navarro released Lopez on a $500 bond.
While he was out, Lopez was able to get another gun, which he used to shoot and kill 32-year-old nurse Frank Aguilar, whom he thought was a rival gang member. The murder occurred on Nov. 13 according to court records. NOW Lopez is being held without bail.
Last April 24-year-old Josue Becerra was charged with having a loaded .45-cal handgun in his vehicle. Judge David Navarro released him on a whopping $200 bond.
On July 23, a man flagged police down and he told them that three men in a red jeep pointed a gun at him. Several minutes later, officers tried to pull Becerra over as he drove a red Jeep nearby. Officers said that he sped away, drove in the wrong lane, and went onto the Kennedy Expressway before he was stopped. He was charged with fleeing and eluding, possession of ecstasy, and multiple traffic violations.
Despite being still out on bail for the April gun charge, Judge Charles Beach let him go home by posting another $500 bond. Are we seeing a revolving door here? This time while out on bond, on Jan. 21, Chicago police were conducting undercover surveillance when they heard gunfire. They saw Becerra run past their unmarked car with a gun in his hand.
Police tried to stop him, but Becerra got into a car and sped away, eventually crashing in North Center.
The man who Becerra shot was left in critical condition. Prosecutors charged Becerra with attempted murder, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, aggravated battery of a police officer, and aggravated assault of a police officer. Finally, he was held without bail.
Let us then move on to Lafayette Hodges. Last April, prosecutors charged him with biting and punching police officers to were attempting to serve him with a warrant on the West Side of Chicago. In court, Judge David Navarro made a handwritten not about Hodges’ background on the case cover sheet: “juvie justice attempt armed robbery.”
In spite of that, the 18-year-old was allowed to go home by posting a $200 deposit.
While awaiting trial in May, he was charged with manufacture-delivery of heroin. He was again released on his own recognizance and prosecutors dropped the case in October.
Last December, two days after Christmas, Hodges fatally shot his girlfriend. Hodges told Investigators that he thought the gun was empty when he pointed it at his girlfriend’s head and pulled the trigger. Unfortunately for her, the gun was not empty. Hodges was so “distraught” over the “accident” that he ran from the house with the gun before emergency crews arrived.
Due to his juvenile robbery conviction, Hodges was not legally allowed to possess any firearm. Prosecutors only charged him with involuntary manslaughter.
Judge Arthur Willis revoked Hodges’ bail on the April case and set bail for the shooting death of his girlfriend at $50,000.
On Oct. 9 of last year, prosecutors charged Vertis Peterson with felony possession of a firearm during a narcotics act. He went free after paying a $200 deposit by Judge David Navarro. Are you noticing a pattern here? Navarro seems to have his hands on a lot of these dirtbags getting released on minimal bonds.
On Nov. 9, exactly one month later, Peterson, 26, got into an argument with a 63-year-old man who was walking down the 7100 block of South May in the city. Peterson pulled out a handgun, walked up to the older man, and shot him six times until the revolver ran out of bullets. The victim somehow survived, and Peterson was identified in a photo line-up, according to police.
Judge Charles beach ordered him held without bail.
Last Nov. 26, 24-year-old Ed Rush was charged with first-degree murder for shooting 20-year-old Rayveon Hutchins to death as he was walking down the street. At the time of the murder, Rush was free on a recognizance bond despite the fact he had previously skipped bail on a battery case involving a police officer. The Chicago Tribune also reported that Rush is on probation for a misdemeanor gun violation.
After being arrested for battering police on Sept. 22, a judge let him go by requiring only a $500 deposit bond. The judge? David Navarro. Rush failed to appear at his next court date, however, was released on his own recognizance on Nov. 6.
The last of the “not so serious cases” referred to by Chief Judge Evans involves the 2018 case of 31-year-old Israel Villegas.
In Oct. 2018, Villegas was charged with murdering a 22-year-old man in the Chicago suburb of Cicero while he was out on “affordable bail” for his FIFTH illegal gun case. Viellegas shot Diomar Rangel six times in the chest during an argument. Police were able to track him down and witnesses identified him as being the shooter.
Court records indicated that Villegas was free on a $250 deposit bond that a judge set after prosecutors charged him with his fifth felony firearms violation and obstruction of justice. He was also supposed to have been on electronic monitoring at the time of the murder as well.
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