Activist Erricka Bridgeford, center, marches with others during a Ceasefire event in 2018. The grassroots campaign for a violence-free 72 hours returns this weekend.
Activist Erricka Bridgeford, center, marches with others during a Ceasefire event in 2018. The grassroots campaign for a violence-free 72 hours returns this weekend. (Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun)

With shootings up 13 percent from this time last year, Baltimore Ceasefire is asking for 72-hours of peace this weekend for the second time this year.

Led by Erricka Bridgeford, the weekends are held quarterly and carry the slogan, “Nobody kill anybody.” This is the second time since launching in August 2017 that its fallen on Mother’s Day weekend.

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Bridgeford hopes the weekend will bring mothers and fathers alike together to mourn.

“Even though it’s Mother’s Day weekend we want to offer help for everyone,” Bridgeport said. “Grieving the loss of your child to violence is something you will be doing for the rest of your life.”

'People are deciding to change what they can': Baltimore Ceasefire organizer optimistic amid violent weekend

Despite two fatal shootings this week, Baltimore’s Ceasefire organizers say there is evidence their initiative is beginning to take hold across the city.

The call for peace comes just one week after a particularly violent start to the month in which 12 people were shot, including two young children. Baltimore has 103 homicides so far this year.

Bridgeford said the goal of the Ceasefire to stop shootings and prevent any more deaths but it’s also to promote general peace.

“It’s not just about shootings, it’s just people being peaceful,” Bridgeford said. “Even just having people think twice about how they’re driving and how they might act in traffic.”

The Ceasefire features several events throughout the weekend including job fairs, a block party and a cookout. Throughout the weekend, participants also visit spots where people have been killed to hold a “sacred space ritual.” During the ritual, people chant, burn sage and touch the grass and trees.

One of the rituals will be held Friday afternoon at 1000 Valley St. in East Baltimore, where Jacquelyn Smith was killed in December. Initially, her husband, Keith Smith, said Jacquelyn was fatally stabbed after giving money to a panhandler. Police have since arrested and charged Keith Smith, 52, and his daughter Valeria Smith, 28, in Jacquelyn’s death.

Jacquelyn's brother Marcel Trisvan, who lives in Havre de Grace, said Friday he was unaware of the event but that the family continues to grieve.

One year after first Ceasefire event, Baltimore leaders say program has made a difference

One year later, Ceasefire events are now held quarterly, and city and neighborhood leaders agree the event has made a positive difference in the city’s fight against crime.

Jacquelyn’s sons, including the youngest who had been close with Keith Smith, are still working through what happened, Trisvan said.

“It’s not really easy. It’s not in the news as much, so it kind gives you an opportunity to process and deal,” he said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.

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