Grass-roots group denounces killings and the apathy that follows
This past Sunday night, 40 men from a group called the "300 Men March" walked all night from Baltimore to Washington, D.C.—a 35 mile trek—to show their solidarity for peace and an end to inner city violence.
The 300 Men March is a grass-roots group that recruits city youth to walk the streets denouncing the hundreds of killings in Baltimore each year and to address the apathy that often follows. The group took their message to the National Mall, arriving two hours earlier than expected on Monday afternoon after an 18 hour walk.
Sean Stinnett, spokesman for the 300 Men March, told the Baltimore Sun that the group expected the march to "help ‘broaden our message."
Ideally, the group would like to meet with President Obama since their initiative correlates with the president’s "My Brother’s Keeper project," which connects young people to mentoring, support networks and skills to find a job or go to college."
The group’s founder, Munir Bahar, said of the march:
"It’s symbolic of what we’re willing to do to address the violence in our city," Bahar said. "The solution is simple. We need to go above and beyond." More than 200 people have been killed in Baltimore so far this year, with May and July each seeing more than 40 homicides.
"It’s not going to be comfortable," Bahar told the group. "It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to be convenient. … As long as we have bodies dropping and young people killing each other, we need to do more."
Bahar criticized those who sit by and complain about the violence:
"People expect the murder rate to go away by sitting on the couch," Bahar said. "If it’s business as usual, it’s murders as usual."
He encouraged the group throughout the march, as they took small breaks and met with some local councilmen along the way.
One marcher said he wanted the nation to see the men in Baltimore who want to stop the bloodshed:
"We need to present ourselves to the entire country as a model," he said. "We’re highlighting what’s going on across the country, and we need concerned men in particular to get involved."
Aljajeera American reports that the group plans to set up “Street Engagement Units” to help stop violence before its starts by speaking to at-risk youth and offering them jobs and educational opportunities. The … group… has employed the same techniques with success in one Baltimore neighborhood — Belair-Edison on the city’s northeast side.
The anti-violence group hopes to also start five new community centers in Baltimore city dedicated to stopping youth from engaging in crime or violence.
A writer at the Daily Kos noted that the event hardly registered in the national media:
"Had any one of these men decided to throw a rock at a police car window, his picture would’ve been plastered all over the news … "
Zoe Romanowsky is lifestyle editor and video content producer for Aleteia.