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Anti-Violence Group Taps Baltimore As Conference Site

As Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott has a plan for curbing the city’s rampant gun violence, his strategy has caught the attention of a national organization dedicated to promoting anti-violence work. Cities United chose Baltimore as the site of its ninth annual conference this week that will draw more than 450 attendees, including local government leaders and community-based organizations from more than 75 cities, reports the Baltimore Sun. “We all know this work is not easy. It cannot be done in a vacuum and it won’t change what we’re seeing overnight,” he said. “But together, we can create the change that will help change the trajectory of younger generations.” Scott, who has made anti-violence work central to his mayoral platform, has pleded to reduce shootings by 15 percent annually. The city remains on pace to surpass 300 homicides for the eighth year. The city has recorded 277 homicides in 2022, compared to 272 this time last year. Anthony Smith of Cities United said the group chose Baltimore for their conference because organizers believe other cities can learn from its ongoing efforts. “I’m not saying Baltimore has got it all figured out ... I think they’re moving in the right direction and we’ll start seeing the impact of the work over the next couple years.” Among other things, the conference includes site visits to Baltimore organizations involved in Scott’s anti-violence strategy.

“We are building an ecosystem that integrates each critical part of community violence intervention,” said Shantay Jackson, director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement. Central to the strategy is Safe Streets, a program that employs “credible messengers” to de-escalate conflicts and discourage beefs. City officials are restructuring the program to increase oversight by consolidating management of its 10 Baltimore sites. Scott has relaunched a “focused deterrence” program meant to target a small group of at-risk people by offering them services to help them avoid becoming involved in crime. This model has been previously implemented in Baltimore with little success. Other efforts include expanding hospital-based and school-based violence intervention programs. Baltimore is one of 16 jurisdictions participating in a White House initiative launched last year to address rising gun violence using money from the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that Congress passed in March 2021.


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