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The Cost of Street Violence in Baltimore is Written on the Body

By Jefferson Jackson Steele | Posted 3/30/2005

As Baltimoreans, we have all heard this story before: Shots ring out on the streets of Mobtown, bodies fall to the pavement, film at 11. The local media (including this paper) make headlines from the bloody crime scenes and the names of the murdered. But what of the survivors? The Maryland Shock Trauma Center figures indicate that Shock Trauma alone treated a staggering 430 gunshot wounds in 2004.

Young African-American men are the predominant victims of gun-related violence in the streets of Baltimore. Dr. Carnell Cooper of the University of Maryland Medical System saw the need to help those who avoided the coronerís slab and created the Violence Intervention Program (VIP) at Shock Trauma. Using gunshot-wound survivors as counselors, VIP works with victims of street violence. These counselors show up at the bedsides of victims, offering assistance with paperwork, medical problems, and whatever else the victim might need to get back on track again. All of the men featured in this article have been participants in the Violence Intervention Program.

Many of these survivors carry physical and mental wounds that will affect them for the rest of their lives, but each one faces his own future with strength and courage. They want to live their lives and continue healing. These are their pictures and stories.

Special thanks to the participants who bared their wounds and shared their stories. Thanks also to Dr. Carnell Cooper and VIP staff members Dawn Eslinger, Adrian Barnes Sr., Michael Ferguson Sr., and Michael Allen for all their assistance.

* the abbreviation used by police and hospitals to describe a gunshot wound

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