Anti-Gun Violence Activist Dante Barksdale Shot To Death

Dante Barksdale, the face of Baltimore’s violence-prevention program Safe Streets, was reportedly shot to death on Sunday (January 17).

According to the Baltimore Sun, Barksdale was shot in the head in the Douglass Homes housing project at around 11:15 a.m. City officials later confirmed his death.

Southeast District officers reportedly found Barksdale suffering from a gunshot wound near the 200 block of Douglass Court. He was subsequently transported to nearby Johns Hopkins Hospital where he later died. 

The circumstances surrounding Barksdale’s death aren’t clear as of Tuesday. Homicide detectives are currently investigating, according to the Sun.

The news of Barksdale’s death stunned the Baltimore community at large.

“His life was dedicated to preventing this type of stuff from happening,” said James Timpson, a former Safe Streets leader who now heads the Roca youth violence prevention program. “Nobody can believe that this happened.”

Weeks prior to the shooting, a resident of the complex said Barksdale,  who was fondly known as “Tater,” had delivered winter coats to families at the Douglass Homes.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott called Barksdale the “heart and soul” of Safe Streets, whom he led engaging in crime-fighting initiatives along with other social services.

“My heart is broken with the loss of my friend Dante Barksdale, a beloved leader in our community who committed his life to saving lives in Baltimore,” Scott said in a news release. “His death is a major loss to Safe Streets, the communities they serve, and the entire City of Baltimore. I will not let those who chose to violently take his life dampen the light of his work.”

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Erricka Bridgeford, an activist for the Baltimore Ceasefire 365 initiative and confidant of Barksdale, called his death “devastating.”

“For all of us who are warriors in this [violence prevention], this is a war cry, to get this work done” she told the Sun.

Baltimore continues to be in the grip of a wave of violent crime that began in 2015. Each year, there have been more than 300 homicides.

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