Rally calls for 'Safe Streets'

Initiative includes series of events

June 14, 2008|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,Sun Reporter

Flanked by chanting volunteers clad in matching white "Safe Streets" T-shirts, Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon led a rally in front of City Hall yesterday to kick off six events planned for the Father's Day weekend in some of the city's most troubled neighborhoods.

"The people you see in these T-shirts are not just wearing them for form and fashion," Dixon said. "We can cease violence in these communities."

Dixon alluded to some of the week's violence in her remarks, expressing dismay that two men were shot and killed early Wednesday in West Baltimore's Easterwood Park. "It is a park where many of us grew up," she said.

The events are part of the city Health Department's Safe Streets program, a public health initiative in East Baltimore's McElderry Park and Ellwood Park neighborhoods and in Union Square.

Crime statistics provided by the city's Health Department show that there has been a reduction in homicides and nonfatal shootings in McElderry Park, the neighborhood where the program has run longest. There had been an average of 1.6 nonfatal shootings or homicides in the 36 months before the program started. In the 10 months since it has been active, the average has fallen to 0.7 a month, according to Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, the city's health commissioner.

But Sharfstein cautioned that it is too early to glean much from that data. The programs in the other neighborhoods have been fully staffed for only a few months.

Events scheduled for today include:

* Block party and barbeque from noon to 8 p.m. in the first block of S. Carrollton Ave.

* Community celebration and barbeque from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Ellwood Park, 410 N. Curley St.

Events scheduled for tomorrow include:

* Sermon of Peace at 9:45 a.m. at Monroe Street United Methodist Church, 400 S. Monroe St.

* Sermon of Peace at 11 a.m. at the River at Revival Christian Ministries, 24 S. Fulton St.

* Sermon of Peace at 11:30 a.m. at Lion of Judah Praise Temple, 1201 W. Baltimore St.

annie.linskey@baltsun.com

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