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Summer of the gun

A project that began as way to try and make some kind of sense of the violence in our city.

Photo: J.M. Giordano, License: N/A

J.M. Giordano


It’s mid-July and it’s over 100 degrees and there’s no shade. Anywhere. A red mass drips down the curb and onto the hot street. A police officer kneels at a bicycle left behind by the alleged shooter. Outside the crime scene, an elderly resident hides behind a great black umbrella, and Rev. Milton Williams is shaking his head.“Baltimore streets run red with blood every summer,” says the bald holy man, sweating in his impeccable suit. “This year is no different.”

He’s not correct. The summer of 2013 is different—it’s worse. Since the beginning of the steamy season, non-fatal shootings in Baltimore City are up 23 percent from last year, according to police. There have been three, four, seven people shot at the same time. Davon Ockimey, Montae Higgins, and 15-year-old Deshaun Jones were all alive and well at the beginning of the summer, watching their kids, spending time with their relatives, or, in the case of Jones, nurturing a budding rap career. They’re gone now.

Their funerals, street corners, and front stoops have all passed by my lens since I started the Summer of the Gun project in early July.

I began the project to try to make some kind of sense of the violence in our city. To try to get my head around why this happens. I wanted to show people what it was really like in the neighborhoods, in the streets that they may not be familiar with. To go beyond the quick flashes of rotating police lights and cross-street signs seen on the evening news. To talk to people about what it’s like living in a world most of us will never have to know.

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