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When Will The Killing End?

Posted 4/21/2010

The murder of Charles Bowman, a 72-year old security guard and long-time fixture in the Waverly neighborhood, during a $13 robbery of a neighborhood carry-out restaurant ought to remind all Baltimoreans of the enormous toll the city's plague of gun violence continues to take, not only on our sense of public safety, but on our public health and our efforts to revitalize the troubled business districts of city neighborhoods ("Murder Ink," April 14). Although it is encouraging that the city's murder rate has finally diminished in recent years, incidents such as Mr. Bowman's murder remain much too commonplace.

None of us is spared the effects of such violence, as shootings kill and maim hundreds of our fellow Baltimoreans each year, traumatize thousands of family members, and make life in our neighborhoods so much meaner and more insecure.

This kind of violence hit home in a very personal way for me 20 years ago when, during my first year in Baltimore, my father was shot in a Chinese carry-out restaurant in his West Philadelphia neighborhood. My parents were regular patrons of the restaurant, just as Mr. Bowman was at Yau Bros. carry-out

I remember driving the two hours north to Philadelphia not knowing, in an era before cell phones, whether I would find my father dead or alive. Fortunately, the bullet had lodged in his jawbone, sparing my father's life. But I will never forget the trauma the incident caused my family. I remember this period as the first true test of my rejection of the death penalty. My opposition to capital punishment survived that trauma, but I also emerged with an even stronger commitment to fighting for policies that will make our communities safer.

It is well and good for the city's fine police commissioner to suggest that we must get the bad guys off the street. But as Mr. Bealefeld knows very well, we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem. We must work even harder with the leaders of our city's neighborhood associations and nonprofit groups to stop the killing and to create a task force empowered to take decisive action to end the city's scourge of gun violence.A For Waverly and the surrounding community, the three murders have contaminated it and it must be cleaned up.

We can and must dedicate ourselves to ending this assault on the health of our body public in our lifetimes. Unfortunately for Mr. Bowman and his family, this remedy will come too late, but it can't come too soon for the parents and children of Baltimore City.

Mary L. Washington

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