By Thomas Bunn
In light of the recent killings of black men in America and the alleged retaliation murders of 8 police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Los Angeles Hip Hop legends, The Game along with Snoop Dogg, and several other rappers took to the streets in protest, leading to conversations with LAPD and elected officials.
From those conversations, and thousands of conversations prior, sparked the urgency to mobilize a call to action for a cease fire by police and citizens. Snoop, who was billed as a co-host of the “Time To Unite: United Hoods + Gangs Nation” event, did not attend.
In 2015, LAPD reported that Los Angeles experienced 160 gang-related homicides with the highest concentration occurring in South LA.
The Game addressed the audience saying, “Your life should mean more to you,” he told the crowd. “Your life should mean more to you than what you’re showing.”
Nation of Islam Minister Tony Muhammad, who helped organize the event, said it’s time for the black community to come together.
“Come on black community, it’s time for us to stand up and unite,” he said.
The last time members of Bloods and Crips came together in efforts to cease-fire and negotiate peace was in 1992 during the Watts Gang Peace Treaty that took place just days before the LA Riots. The treaty was declared between enemy neighborhoods in Watts, between the Grape Street Crips, Jordan Down Projects, PJ Watts Crips, and the Bounty Hunter Bloods, who all met in the Imperial Court Projects gym to negotiate.
Activist and NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown, alongside a host of celebrities, helped moderate the talks and the treaty into accord, which lasted for the greater part of a decade and has since regressed.
The speakers Sunday ranged from current gang members, to former gang members who now work to help quell violence, to Big Boy, a local radio personality.
Ben “Taco” Owens, who supervises gang-intervention workers at a local nonprofit, told the group that he believes “that you’re here because you want to change.”
“This is a very, very critical moment in our city and in our lives,” he said, adding that two people were killed in Gardena, where he is from, in one week.
Michael “Big Mike” Cummings, a gang-intervention worker in Watts, said he is “sick and tired of losing our babies.”
“The only thing that needs to be divided by colors is our laundry,” he said.
There’s a growing debate about whether systemic change can be accomplished without Black folks working on and taking care of our “housekeeping items” i.e. black-on-black crime, and it’s honestly a short-sighted one, for the fact that black-on-black crime is a myth that’s been busted for quite some time now. Most homicide are committed by individuals who know each other, and close to 90% of all homicides committed by whites are against whites, according to the Bureau of Justice.
The point of focus in the community doesn’t have to be one that’s mutually exclusive. We’ve grown complex enough as human beings to be able to walk, chew gum, and play Pokémon Go, all at the same time. We can organize successful community building initiatives on intrapersonal and interpersonal levels, as well as systemic top-down, bottom-up legislation that establishes value and protects lives of the citizens it serves.
From the looks of it, it’s slowly beginning to happen in pockets all around the nation. Salute to all the members of the community who were in attendance Sunday morning and contributed to a critical part of the change we’ve been looking for.