Dante “Tater” Barksdale, one of the most prominent, outspoken, and bravest leaders in the movement to reduce violence in Baltimore, and throughout the country, was shot and killed on Sunday, January 17. Mr. Barksdale was an outreach coordinator for the nationally renowned Safe Streets program in Baltimore, a partner in the Cure Violence Global (CVG) network. For more than a decade, he risked his life daily to stop violence in his community and the city of Baltimore.
We in the CVG family mourn him deeply. Our hearts go out to his family, friends, and colleagues as they grieve this immeasurable loss.
Dante Barksdale was a local and national hero — his work highly respected, his passion and tireless dedication renowned, his spirit beloved. K. Bain, a leader and colleague from NYC Cure Violence captured what coworkers and colleagues in Baltimore and across the country are experiencing when he said that he and his team are “bleeding inside and out” over Tater’s sudden and unexpected death.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott called Dante the “heart and soul” of the Safe Streets program, stating, “While I am devastated by the loss of my brother in the fight to save lives in Baltimore, I will not let those who chose to violently take his life dampen the light of his work. Dante’s work saved lives. This is a sobering reminder of how dangerous this frontline work is.”
Erricka Bridgeford, Executive Director of the Baltimore Community Mediation Center, wrote Sunday, “What I know is that Tater’s soul is unleashed to continue doing the work in ways that will be miraculous. We have not been left alone. We have just gained a mighty warrior in this spiritual warfare.”
Mr. Barksdale was part of a large and growing movement of violence interrupters, outreach workers, hospital responders, and others paving the new way to reduce violence through community-based work and public health. Thousands of community workers and activists across the country carry on his legacy through their fearless work reducing violence. His death is a call to action to all of us to enhance our support of violence prevention work to which he fiercely and selflessly dedicated his life. To all of us at Cure Violence Global and with our partners around the country and around the world, Mr. Barksdale will always be remembered and his work and his memory gives us additional strength and motivation.