By Deborah Bailey, Special to the AFRO
The elders got things started Saturday afternoon on Park Heights Avenue as a diverse rainbow of community members and supporters prepared to march in celebration of Baltimore Ceasefire 365’s first year anniversary.
“I like that this march started with our elder men leading the charge,” Williams, Ceasefire supporter said of her favorite part of the day. It is a challenge Baltimoreans have increasingly embraced over the course of a year of quarterly Ceasefire weekends.
Volunteers and participants in Baltimore Ceasefire 365 parade (Photo by Deborah Bailey)
Baltimore’S Ceasefire is a call for a cessation in violent deaths over a 3-day weekend period. This, the fifth Ceasefire took place August 3-5.
“People who say ‘where are our men don’t see them because they don’t come into the community to see them’” Williams added as a strong contingent of men of all ages joined the parade route.
Elders, men and women, artists and griots, marching bands, parents and children representing more than 30 organizations, marched down Park Heights Ave., determined to own the day and rebrand the city. Youth from the local Epic Premier Marching Unit added a soulful step and swagger to the mission of transforming Baltimore’s streets one block at a time as supporters of Baltimore Ceasefire 365 once again put out the call started August 2017. This weekend, Ceasefire organizers are issuing the call with more supporters and a sense of dynamism.
“Events like this bring a lot of positive energy to the neighborhood. As the momentum continues to grow, it’s going to become increasingly difficult for someone to commit a violent crime during a Ceasefire weekend,” said Kevin “Ogun” Beasley, co-visionary of Baltimore Ceasefire 365.
“We came from all over the state today; from Frederick, Harford County, Prince Georges County,” said Jennifer Singleton, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
“The majority of homicides that happen in Maryland happen in Baltimore and that’s got to become all of our problem,” Singleton said.
“I’m just trying to spread some love and stop the violence,” said Janaah Lucas, from the local group the Love Gang. “I’m marching in memory of my niece.”
Lucas recently lost her niece to gun violence and saw Baltimore Ceasefire as one way to change a violent culture that Lucas says does not reflect the resilience and creativity of Baltimoreans.
“Events like this remind us of who we are… Look at all the love out here,” Lucas said.
“Just the love and the smiles and people jumping in and blowing horns… This is what the spirit of Baltimore really is,” said Erricka Bridgeford co-visionary of Baltimore Ceasefire 365.
“I’m just so glad Baltimore showed up to love itself,” Bridgeford said.