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Baltimore Hosts New Year’s Eve Anti-Violence Vigil

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As we celebrate the promise of the New Year, there’s a push to remember the lives lost to violence in 2012. That number is again past 200 in Baltimore.

Mike Hellgren has more some of the stories behind that sad reality.

After a steady reduction in the number of murders in recent years, they are up: 20 more people were murdered this year than last year.

Right now, a vigil is underway at War Memorial Plaza to honor them.

Some of the violence in Baltimore was so cold-hearted and so senseless, it left the people living through it wondering if there was any hope.

“Do you think next year will be any different? No, because it’s still the same thing,” said Jamal Joyner, whose brother was murdered.

“We need something. We need something to happen,” said Joyner.

Joyner has lived his whole life in a blighted section of West Baltimore that was featured in the HBO miniseries “The Corner” more than 10 years ago. He says, little is different today.

“How many more have to die before we make a change?” asked Joyner. “People are killing each other for 10, 20 dollars. It’s not worth it.”

On New Year’s Eve, the number of murders in Baltimore City stood at 216. That’s up from last year when 197 people were killed.

Michael Williams remains optimistic. He, too, lost a brother, Mario, to violence. That’s when he started a vigil to pay tribute to victims.

“I know at 12:35 was the time he was shot, so I’ve got to get to 12:35,” said Williams.

Baltimore has seen big changes in the police department. It has a new commissioner who has said he’ll focus on getting guns off the streets, but for Williams, it’s also about reaching the youth and he concedes, change won’t happen overnight.

“To think we’re going to force our way or law enforcement our way into reducing homicides and violence and narcotics, it’s just not going to happen. We should really make a commitment to really do something about it,” said Williams.

More than 90 percent of murder victims in the city this year were men and more than 80 percent were killed with a handgun. City police said they have taken more than 1,000 guns out of the hands of criminals this year.

The commissioner recently announced changes to top command staff and new leadership for the homicide unit.

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