This Friday night will be the 19th Friday in a row that Nick Mosby has walked the streets of West Baltimore.
The 34-year-old freshman city councilman for the 7th District, Mosby started what he calls his Enough is Enough peace rallies — which bring out neighborhood residents, as well as his wife, Marilyn Mosby, and their two daughters every Friday at 7 p.m. — at the end of March as a response to violent crime in the West Baltimore neighborhoods he represents. As the number of homicides in Baltimore spiked in early summer, more peace marches in the vein of Mosby’s were organized, all a response to increasing violence.
(141 homicides this year as of press time: view the Baltimore Sun homicide map here.)
For Mosby, though, the Enough is Enough rallies are more than a community’s collective response to violent crime. Much of his family is originally from West Baltimore, on Mulberry Street, the northern boundary of Franklin Square. So the marches are a way for Mosby to show love for a community where his roots run deep.
“I was rich growing up,” he said. “I was rich in love, the whole importance and understanding of family.”
While his extended family is from West Baltimore, Mosby himself grew up in northeast Baltimore, the only man sharing a 1,100-square-foot house with six women—grandmother, mother, two aunts, sister and cousin. His father “wasn’t in my life,” Mosby said, and died when he was only 14. Mosby shared a bedroom with his mother and sister until about the 7th grade.
A Baltimore Polytechnic Institute graduate who received his degree in electrical engineering from Tuskegee University—the same place he met his wife (“We were college sweethearts.”)—Mosby said he knew he “always wanted to be on City Council” since the third grade, when Kurt Schmoke became the first elected black mayor of Baltimore in 1987.
“I feel blessed to have the opportunity of doing something I always wanted to do,” said Mosby.
Technically Baltimore spoke with Councilman Mosby in late July.
TB: The number of homicides in Baltimore has dominated the news this summer. Is there a way the city can use crime data to predict — and prevent — shootings?
NM: That’s the foundation of the Enough is Enough rally. At the end of March going into April, 31 percent of all the homicides occurred in the Western District, in my neck of the woods. We started working with the police department, and started asking them for patterns of crime in my district—and locations of crime. We were able to narrow down at what hour on what day most of the violent acts were occurring in my district, and that’s why we settled on Friday at 7 p.m. in places that historically have had crime patterns, or recently have had a violent act.
TB: Are the marches working? Are they helping reduce crime?
NM: I don’t think that you can see the empirical results associated with what it’s doing. But we’re speaking to guys on the corner, we’re speaking to everybody in the neighborhood. One time, we had this young guy — who was clearly going through something — about 14 or 15. He just asked us to pray for him. It’s those types of things that I believe make these rallies beneficial.
Watch Nick Mosby at the 300 Man March against violence:
TB: Pretend you’re king for a day, America’s disdain for monarchies notwithstanding. What’s one major policy initiative you’d enact in Baltimore?
NM: It’s bigger than the city of Baltimore. But I would like to have specific legislation to curb handgun violence. There’s so many illegal handguns in places like the city of Baltimore. … I would love to have some type of legislation — and this is kind of getting to my innovative, technical side — where manufacturers would have to do a better job of identifying handguns and where those handguns originate.
TB: So you’re talking about a way to track handguns. Are you ready to dance with the NRA?
NM: What’s the crime for not reporting a stolen handgun? It’s your responsibility if you resell to do proper paperwork to show it’s been resold, or, if it’s stolen, you have to report it right away. I’m not against people having guns and owning guns, but you have to take that responsibility very seriously. And if you lose your gun, or sell your gun, there should be some formal steps around that, and if you do not tell me, I still should be able to trace it back directly to you, somehow.
TB: What do you and other council members talk about when you’re off the clock?
NM: Our bonding is around sports. We text each other all the time about the Orioles or the Ravens. It’s more me, Brandon [Scott] and Bill [Cole]. We’ll tweet stuff out. Go back and forth on Facebook. As it relates to extracurricular things outside of legislation, I probably talk to them the most.
TB: Aside from Twitter and Facebook, what other mobile apps do you use?
NM: I use this thing called GroupMe instant messaging. I started playing around on Vine. I have fantasy football apps.
TB: You and your family moved to Reservoir Hill in 2004, long before you were representing that neighborhood as 7th District Councilman. Why did you want to live there?
NM: I always loved really big houses [and] growing up I always wanted to live in Reservoir Hill. I purchased a house through the City of Baltimore [SCOPE program] — it was a dilapidated structure that was abandoned for almost 20 years. Didn’t have a roof, had a tree growing through it. Nothing was salvageable. We fixed it up, me and my wife.
TB: Speaking of your wife, Marilyn, she’s running for Baltimore City State’s Attorney. How do you balance out your job, her campaign, and family life?
NM: What I do a lot — I incorporate them with the events. My wife enjoys coming to community meetings or coming to community events, and we bring the girls. And for the Enough is Enough rallies, my daughters, they’re 2 and 4, they are mad at me when they miss a rally. They walk around the house acting like they’re marching and rallying and singing songs. I think a lack of family in our communities is one of the issues that’s plaguing our communities, so I think people enjoy seeing it.