By Sean Yoes
AFRO Baltimore Editor
syoes@afro.com

One of the mantras born of the Baltimore Ceasefire Movement is, “Don’t be numb.” The gentle fiat coined by the group’s co-founder Erricka Bridgeford asks us not to be indifferent to the murder and mayhem that continues to ripple throughout our city.
“Don’t be numb,” challenges us to work through our pain and fear even when we feel compelled to hide our hearts and spirits in the midst of sometimes unfathomable episodes of violence.

Yet, some of these episodes push us past the breaking point.

The murder of 23-year old Shiand Miller, who was eight months pregnant, along with her three-year old baby girl Shaniya Gilmore is one of those seemingly demonic episodes that dims the resilient spirit of our city.

Sean Yoes

In the 200 block of Boswell Road in Southwest Baltimore, Miller and Shaniya were discovered by a resident of the neighborhood  around 12:30 p.m. on June 19.  Miller and her daughter had been shot to death. On June 20, police arrested 24-year-old Devon Sample who is allegedly the father of Miller’s unborn child. According to the Baltimore Sun, Sample lives with his grandmother in the Beechfield community, which is near the scene of the murders on Boswell Road.

On Father’s Day (June 21), hundreds gathered near the murder scene  to mourn and honor the life of Miller and her children. The Sun also reports Miller’s mother, Sheree Reid said her granddaughter Shaniya was about to start prekindergarten and the family was planning a baby shower for Miller.

I’ve been writing about homicide in Baltimore for a long time and it has always been hard for me. But, reporting on the murder of young Black mothers is particularly difficult for me to wrap my mind around.

Yet, I keep being presented with the burden to do so.

Last December, it was the murder of Destiny Harrison, 21, the charismatic hair wizard and mother of a one-year-old daughter Dream. Killers walked into her East Baltimore salon and gunned her down in front of Dream and others. Harrison’s murderers still haven’t been caught.

Three years ago in June 2017, I reported on the murder of Charmaine Wilson in the 3700 block of Gertrude St. in Southwest Baltimore. Wilson, 37, the mother of eight was gunned down in front of some of her children. Apparently, she was murdered for having the audacity to call police on multiple occasions when she and her children were assaulted and bullied by neighbors.

August 1, 2016, Korryn Gaines was shot to death by members of the Baltimore County Police Department when they stormed her Randallstown apartment. Gaines, 23, was gunned down as she held her son Kodi in her arms during a standoff with law enforcement. Kodi, who was five at the time had part of his arm blown off during the shooting that killed his mother. Baltimore County Police ultimately killed Gaines in an effort to arrest her on a warrant for a traffic ticket.

Gaines, Wilson, Harrison and now Miller and baby girl Shaniya, are among the more than 1,800 murder victims in Baltimore since 2015. And now these young women are added to a rapidly growing list of young Black women who have been murdered in America. In just the last few months the list includes:19-year-old Oluwatoyin Salau, and 30-year-old Shareece Campbell, and 19-year-old Vanita Richardson, and 31-year-old Truvenia Campbell, and 27-year-old Raven Gant, and 23-year-old Anitra Gunn, and 28-year-old Angel Connor, and 28-year-old Monique Baugh, and 29-year-old Quintina Jeffries, among dozens of others.

It’s really hard not to be numb in Baltimore. And it’s getting  harder every day not to be numb all over America.

Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Baltimore editor and the author of Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories From One of America’s Great Imperiled Cities.

 

Sean Yoes

AFRO Baltimore Editor