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Baltimore Clergy, Community Leaders Rally To Stop The Violence

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — More than 40 people shot in the city of Baltimore since the start of summer. Now city leaders are hitting the streets to speak out against the violence even as they, themselves, are under fire.

Meghan McCorkell has more on the reaction to the violence.

Both the mayor and state’s attorney were out walking the western district Monday night to send a message, but some clergy members say stopping the violence comes down to trust.

City under siege: 120 people were murdered in Baltimore this year and 28 of them killed last month.

When asked, “Do you feel like a lot of people don’t have hope here?” Edna Manns-Lake with Fayette Street Outreach tells WJZ, “I feel like the majority of them don’t.”

Now community leaders are taking to the streets to try and help neighbors stand up against criminals.

“It’s important for the neighborhoods and the community to be engaged, to show that they’re not going to relinquish the streets to violence,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

City police have doubled patrols in crime hot spots. Police now have the 900-block of Bennett Place under 24-hour surveillance after three murders here since the beginning of the year. More and more officers are out on foot patrol.

“We want to let them know that we breathe, we walk, we live, we work in this community. This is our community and we respect the community,” said Major Robert Smith, commander of the western district.

But some clergy members are critical, saying citizens don’t trust the police or politicians.

“There’s a secret code of silence on the street. People ain’t talking because they ain’t doing nothing,” said Dr. John Lund with the Baptist Ministers Conference of Baltimore. “The protection has not been provided by our police department and by our state’s attorney.”

The state’s attorney says the code needs to be broken to stop the violence.

“To the extent that the community is involved and they believe in the system and they come forward, I think that’s where we really start to make a difference,” said City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein.

A difference that could mean more lives saved.

The commander of the western district says gangs and drug turf disputes are the big reasons for violence there.

Members of the Baptist Ministers Conference say they plan to move beyond church walls and be more visible in the community.

More from Meghan McCorkell

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