Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore called on Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) to target state resources toward preventing gun violence in Baltimore on Wednesday.
“The number one responsibility of the chief executive is to keep people safe, so today, I’m calling on Governor Hogan to take immediate action,” Moore said at a news conference in East Baltimore.
Moore, a frontrunner in the 2022 race for governor, called on Hogan to take a series of immediate actions to quell violence in the city, including:
- Providing state and federal resources to assist the city’s new Firearm Intelligence Unit;
- Using state funding to enhance community-based violence-interruption programs; and
- Filling staffing vacancies at the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Division of Parole and Probation.
Moore pointed the finger at Hogan, who has repeatedly stated that it’s the responsibility of city officials — not the state — to control the rising rate of violence.
“You will never hear those words come out of my mouth,” said Moore.
According to The Baltimore Sun Homicide Database, the city has consistently seen more than 300 homicides since 2015 — “every single year that Governor Hogan has been governor of this state,” said Moore.
“Pointing fingers is easy. Leadership is hard,” he continued. “Right now is a time for leadership.”
In an email exchange Wednesday evening, Michael Ricci, a spokesperson for Hogan, said the governor “is encouraged to see more Democratic candidates for governor speaking out about the need to address violent crime.”
“As part of that process, the candidates should familiarize themselves with the many operational steps that the state is already taking to assist the city,” Ricci continued.
Moore’s call for action was largely in response to the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) held a news conference Wednesday afternoon confirming that at least 19 children and two teachers were killed during the attack at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
According to Education Week, Tuesday’s mass shooting in Texas is the 27th school shooting of 2022. Last year’s count was 34.
Moore, a father, said that Wednesday was his daughter’s 11th Birthday. While tucking her into bed on Tuesday night, he thought about how she was about to reach a milestone that too many children won’t because of gun violence.
“…I had the joy of laying my daughter down to sleep,” he said. “A lot of families don’t get that.”
“This is not just about the tragic shootings that we are seeing in other states,” Moore continued. “There are too many families right here in Baltimore who had to bury their children. It is unacceptable and it has to stop.”
Daphne Alston, whose son, Tariq, was killed in 2014, attended Moore’s news conference on Wednesday. She co-founded the organization Mothers of Murdered Sons after his death as a support group for grieving parents to talk not only about the loss of their children but also what was going on in their life before they were murdered.
She expressed to Moore that preventative action needs to be taken to lower the violent crime rate, not just in response to the growing problem.
Alston said that state and local lawmakers don’t give hurting community members — mothers and fathers who have empty beds — a seat at the table when it comes to discussing crime prevention.
She said crime patterns persist because officials with power don’t want to listen to victims and survivors, and have not been personally touched by the violent loss of a child.
“My son’s homicide affected everybody: His classmates, his teacher, his dentist, his pediatrician, my neighbors, my mother, my father, my aunts, all the ones out of town, the ones in the military — that pain when everywhere, it doesn’t stay localized,” said Alston.