Ceasefire Barbeque Seeks to Unite

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Ceasefire’s Ali Graves is witnessing peaceful progress on Rockford's meanest streets.

"Just this last week there's been a lot of fights, but no one's been shot, so they're thinking, they're thinking," Graves said.

That message continued Saturday evening in a special neighborhood barbeque on College and Seminary. Ceasefire leaders, even rappers, spoke out about the need to live and let live, and rally around the smoke of a barbeque, not gun smoke.

As the temperature spikes, Ceasefire is out to cut down the spike of murders and gangs that often accompany the year's warmest months.

"We know that the weather's breaking, so we're making that message before summer, and get out thought provoking messages to get people thinking before their actions," Ceasefire coordinator Ralph Hawthorne said.

Those in the neighborhood say the Ceasefire barbeque transforms an often trouble-filled spot, and injects it with joy, peace and fellowship.

"I like Ceasefire. I think they're a good influence. If it wasn't for them being here, there'd be a lot of fights and negativity," Rashontay Mitchell said.

And while soaking up the spring sun, Ceasefire's outreach staff firmly believes the area's youth is soaking in their message of non-violence, and carving out a destiny other than prison, pistols and death.

"It could be you. The number one cause of death in the African-American community between the age of 10 and 24 is murder. This could be not your friend, but you," Graves said.