It took almost an hour to read the names, more than 300 of them.
Theatra Bowman. Marcus Allen. Constance Price-Barnes. Andrew Watkins.Tyrenka Dorsey. Richard Pearson.
Mayor Brandon Scott read first but called on a host of city officials, clergy, community leaders and citizens to help him carry on a grim tradition. There had been 334 homicides in Baltimore in 2020 when Scott kicked off a virtual vigil to recognize each victim of deadly violence. It was around 6 p.m. New Years Eve.
Participants took turns reading the names of almost every person slain — some have yet to be identified — and acknowledging the trail of pain and grief left in the wake of each death.
“Every life lost in Baltimore is someone’s loved one, family member, friend, neighbor, someone that someone just liked seeing everyday, ” Scott said. Shortly thereafter, as he did again and again, he would acknowledge the next speaker to read more names.
... Samuel Green. Terrell Daniel. Carter Strickland. Justin Johnson. Cordelle Bruce. Khari Johnson. Dashawn Chambers. Dominic Watson. Carolyn McFadden. Tarik Williams. Darius Massey. Rayquiz Joseph. Cornelius Bruce. Malik Samuels. Everette Williams. Jerrod Crim. Richard Walker. Marvin Kosh. Jermell Rhames. Sean Holt. Khaled Heeba. Davon Evans. Devante Smith. Keith Thomas. Tracey Phelps. Andre Giles.
Scott continued through technical glitches. He and City Council President Nick Mosby, both Democrats, said they couldn’t remember a time in their lives when violence hadn’t plagued the city and acknowledged the morbid milestone of Baltimore reaching 300 homicides for the sixth consecutive year. They assured viewers the number didn’t have to be so high.
Nick Mosby appeared on the video feed with his wife, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, also a Democrat. The recently elected council president pledged that change would come from smaller class sizes, more resources and tackling institutional racism — all barriers, he said, to people escaping violence and prospering.
“Opportunity will change the outcomes we see tonight,” Nick Mosby said.
For his part, Scott promised his administration would administer a more holistic approach to combating violence. It’s an approach, Scott said, that recognizes the burden can’t be on the police alone. Instead, it’s incumbent upon every department, agency, business and organization within city limits to ask what they can do to reduce the toll, Scott said. The names went on.
.... Anthony Covington. Riyad Campbell. Quinnon Smith. Gary Williams. Dacron Hobbs. Ernest Wilson III. Robert Green. Dontrell Toliver. Jessie Demary. Keyon Rogers. William Barrett. Joseph Metzger. Roderick Odom. Jazzwind Fulton. Lillian Herndon. Antoine Roy Sr. Veronica Freeman. Eddie Wycoff. Joseph Washington. Gary Stewart. Lamar Judd. John Thomas III. Marcquis Wilson.
Some in attendance said they appreciated the gesture. Among them was Monique Smith, with the Baltimore nonprofit Hug Don’t Shoot, which focuses on providing communities a sense of peace.
“It does my heart good to know that you have taken this kind of time,” Smith said.
But with so many victims, it was bound to happen. As the names were called out, some leaders acknowledged how it’s difficult in Baltimore to keep a distance from the violence. It always finds a way to hit home.
“Listening to these names — my family has buried a few of these names,” said Corey Winfield, who works for Safe Streets Baltimore. “One of them wasn’t but three weeks ago, so the pain is immeasurable.”
The Rev. Donald Wright, Jr. recognized four names.
And the violence showed no signs of relenting. The police scanner screamed with reports of gunshots robberies. The police department said there were no shootings as of about 10:30 p.m.
No matter their age, they were part of the list.
... Moses Rush. Kyon Thomas. Josseph Betts. Tyrell Fleming. Kimberly Turner. Shawn McDonald. Mostafa Taylor. Latrell McBride. Tavonte Briggs. Richard Jones. Corey Coates. Calvin Boyd. Jacob Coates. Ryan Watson. Maqui Darden. Keyon Stith. Andie Wilson. Donya Short. William Bellamy. Yohannes Carr. Shaliqua Watson. Reginal Goodall. Larry Stewart. Antonio Tyson.
The vigil also recognized the victims who haven’t yet been identified. Scott read the last 10 names and turned it over for a closing prayer.
Pastor Wright asked God to be with the victims of violence and those who perpetrate it. He prayed for a reduction in gun violence, in drug overdoses and COVID-19 deaths.
“We believe, God, that next year will be better than this year,” Wright said.