Under dark, threatening skies, 11-year-old Malaika Frazier stood last night in the middle of the 1700 block of Madison Ave. and said that enough is enough.
The sixth-grader wasn't talking about the torrential rain that already had drenched the area yesterday, but of the violence that has swept the city this year.
At least 180 people have been killed in Baltimore so far in 1991, including two children this summer. Last year, 305 people were killed, the most since 1972, when 330 were slain.
Baltimore ranks seventh in homicide among U.S. cities per 100,000 residents, national crime statistics show.
Malaika, who lost an uncle to violence about a month ago, said she's tired of seeing police cars and ambulances speed through her Park Heights Avenue neighborhood, and hearing about murders.
"I don't think it's right that a little girl got shot," she said, referring to Shanika "Nik Nik" Day, 3, who was killed Saturday night when gunmen opened fire on a crowd in the 2100 block of Garrison Blvd. in the Walbrook neighborhood. A 19-year-old man also was killed, struck by bullets as he grabbed and tried to protect Shanika, police said. Another man and Shanika's mother were wounded.
No arrests have been made in what police believe was a drug-related shooting.
Shanika's death was the reason that Malaika and about 100 others gathered in Druid Heights in front of the Payne Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church yesterday.
They wanted to demonstrate they were taking back the streets from the killers, drug dealers and other criminals.
"We believe enough children have died, don't you?" asked the Rev. Vashti McKenzie, pastor of the church.
"We are going to make it, because God is on our side," said the Rev. William Calhoun, of Trinity Baptist Church on Druid Hill Avenue.
Last night's was the first of three rallies, McKenzie said. A second is to be held tonight at 7 at St. Ambrose Church on Park Heights Avenue. A third will be held tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Lafayette Square.
"It's sad that it has to take the death of a young child" to bring people to action, said Councilwoman Sheila Dixon, D-4th.
Maj. Frank A. Russo, commander of the Central District, asked members of the crowd not to lose interest after the rallies but to continue their anti-crime efforts.
As the rain held back, Malaika said she was glad the event was held. "It might help a little bit," she said.