Last night about 150 community members gathered at the University of Baltimore’s Learning Commons for Open Society and Baltimore Ceasefire’s Talking About Race event, Mothers of the Movement Speak.
Open Society Director Diana Morris opened the program, talking about OSI’s work on police accountability and the need for deep, systemic reform of the Baltimore Police Department. Next Erricka Bridgeford, one of the founders of Baltimore Ceasefire, talked about the history and purpose of the violence prevention movement and encouraged everyone to participate in the Ceasefire weekend that starts today. (Go to the Baltimore Ceasefire calendar to peruse the 42 events that are scheduled).
Then, author and activist Bakari Kitwana moderated a panel including Samaria Rice (mother of Tamir Rice), Gwen Carr (mother of Eric Garner), Marion Gray-Hopkins (mother of Gary Albert Hopkins, Jr. and director of the Coalition of Concerned Mothers), and special guest Tawanda Jones, who has led protests against police brutality since her brother was killed during an encounter with the Baltimore Police Department in 2013. Other mothers of victims of police violence also attended, included the mother of Korryn Gaines, who was shot by Baltimore County police in 2016.
Each of the women talked about struggling to come to terms with their loss and focusing their energy into activism to prevent further incidents of police violence. Gwen Carr countered the media narrative that her son Eric Garner was selling loose cigarettes at the time police confronted and ultimately choked him to death. She said he had broken up a fight between two others and was collecting himself when he was confronted.
After the panel, Baltimore Ceasefire organizers facilitated small-group discussions for people to reflect on what the women had to say and how we could collectively effect change in Baltimore.