Call for 100,000 Man March and gang intervention to bring peace to communities
LOS ANGELES (FinalCall.com)–Members of seven gang intervention and prevention organizations joined Nation of Islam Minister Tony Muhammad and other community activists Dec. 12 to outline plans for a 100,000 Man March to return peace to the streets throughout Southern California counties.
The announcement was made during a press conference at Leimert Park that followed the group’s exclusive Dec. 9 meeting with a contingent of Black press at Muhammad Mosque No. 27 regarding the same issue.
The 100,000 Man March will follow of over 30 demonstrations for atonement, peace and reconciliation. It stems from the community’s pain and grief resulting from over 20 murders within Los Angeles County last month, which brought the year’s total to over 600 killings.
Nearly 600 Black men and women turned out for the press conference after word of the March spread through friends, families, and comedian/actor Steve Harvey’s broadcast of the event during his morning radio show on KKBTs 100.3-FM. Radio show host Big Boy (P.O.W.E.R. 106-FM) and radio station 102.3-FM (KJLH) also endorsed the March.
Continuing in the spirit of the Million Man March, the event will be a spiritual gathering of men committed to improving the quality of life in the inner cities of America. Its focus is spiritual, social, political and economic strengthening.
Peace rallies are currently scheduled for more than 15 cities throughout Los Angeles County, including Watts, Compton, Inglewood, East Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Carson beginning Jan. 7. The 100,000 Man March will occur May 31, and its theme will be “Blessed Are The Peacemakers.”
Instead of relying on repetitive, unsuccessful avenues to fighting crime, Min. Tony said adopting the Million Man March’s pattern for peace and atonement proved timely and necessary for Los Angeles.
“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel when we saw what Allah (God) blessed the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan to accomplish towards peace and reconciliation with the Million Man March, that impacted the entire world,” Min. Tony said.
He pointed out that some major U.S. cities experienced very low crime rates after the March, lasting for several years beyond October 16, 1995, despite security agencies’ and law enforcement officials’ reluctance to credit Min. Farrakhan’s efforts in the matter.
Min. Tony said he, the gang interventionists, Mr. Harvey and businessman Earvin “Magic” Johnson (all 100,000 Man March co-conveners) are calling on all men to accept street patrol training to talk to the youth about peace. They also plan to mediate for all existing rivalries.
Represented at the press conference were Unity-One director and Amer-I-Can counselor Bo Taylor and members Shelton Franklin, Leon Taft, and Deshawn Cole; Abdur Rahman of Unity-Two; Venice 2000 co-founder and executive director Stan Muhammad and member Jidelle Scales; Daude Sherrills, director of B.O.S.S. and coordinator for the Community Self-Determination Institute (CSDI), and member Manual Johnson; and Malik Spellman, street activist of The Whole Planet, Inc.
Mr. Harvey also provided airtime for school-aged children impacted by the murders. They continue to call his show with expressions of grief, sorrow, hope, and appreciation for the rare opportunity to speak to an audience about what ails them.
“I needed to hear from the young people in this city to hear what’s on their minds. A lot of it has to do with violence and questions or concerns, and if it’s one way to get to it, it’s to hear what they have to say,” he stated. He said he tries to say something positive, upbeat and encouraging because a lot of parents are doing a great job, but sometimes their messages need reinforcement.
The carnage has left parents, school-aged youth, city administrators and Black politicians, whose constituents are impacted most by the deaths, fearful and calling for more police patrols since the bloodshed.
Prior to the call for peacemakers, grieving families, community activists and religious leaders joined new Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Chief William J. Bratton and Mayor James K. Hahn at citywide press conferences calling for a war on gangs.
“We cannot and will not let gangs control these streets. I will not let residents of this and other communities be held hostage in their homes out of fear,” stated Mayor Hahn during a Dec. 3 press release. A Nov. 15 press release by Chief Bratton cited nearly an eight percent rise in violent crimes Nov. 9 in the South Bureau area.
Mayor Hahn has stated that he will seek federal assistance in fighting street gangs, in addition to the immediate deployment of more gang patrol officers to four problem areas, including South Los Angeles.
Chief Bratton has urged residents to “get angry,” and said that a response to the crime demanded the entire city’s involvement and support. Reports of his travel to Israel last week to meet with Israeli police and political leaders on their counter-terrorism measures were neither confirmed nor denied by LAPD press information officers in phone conversations with The Final Call.
Mayor Hahn’s trip, his quest for federal assistance against L.A. gangs–of which many youth are inaccurately tagged simply because of attire or neighborhood residency–and Chief Bratton’s comparison of gang members to the mafia have left many concerned of a larger plot to destroy young Black and Latino men.
“It’s said that Chief Bratton’s trip to Israel was planned long before he signed on as head of LAPD, but while there, he’ll be looking at their tactics against terrorism. The gangs are getting ready to get a name change, and what they (law enforcement) already had planned for Black and Brown youth, they’re getting ready to implement it,” stated Min. Tony.
Longtime advocate for the homeless Ted Hayes said more could be done by pastors and religious leaders to force peace in their church home communities.
“We’ve got problems in our communities because many of these dog-gone Negro leaders, these preachers, have not taught the word how they’re suppose to be teaching the word of God, teaching our young men and women how to behave ourselves in the face of adversity,” he said.
While Mr. Taylor acknowledged that there is still much work to be done in the street peace movement, he said that the city and county’s crime ratio numbers have been manipulated to get the people’s approval to move on its young men, despite the continuing gang truce and intervention efforts that have been successful thus far.
“That downplays all the work that all of the organizations have been fighting for. To say that there’s a hike in violence, crime, murders, and for them to not even sit down and consult with us is a direct contradiction of the politicians and leaders,” he stated, referring to numerous proclamations and commendations Unity-One and other gang intervention activists have received.
He said the Black community must educate itself, read for themselves, and understand that the murder totals espoused by every local media outlet span the entire county, not just South Central.
Mr. Sherrills said that crime flourishes because of absent economic resources, and it simply pays. “Crimes committed by poor people in poverty-stricken neighborhoods feed law enforcement officers, city officials, politicians, and their families, and until we, the people, have had enough and unite, this will continue,” he said.
Min. Tony said that the gang activists are at the forefront of the 100,000 Man March because many are former members who know the streets, the language and the life. They know their brothers and how to spread peace, not the police, who only know how to kill and react to violence, he added.
Min. Tony said he was deeply saddened by local religious leaders who labeled so-called gang members as being worse than the Taliban, Al Qaeda and terrorists.
Sharon Brown’s son was murdered even though he was in a “safe-haven” for children, a community recreation center. She asked what could she do to help support the bold stand that many women have been waiting for.
Gladys Muhammad, western region protocol directress, responded that the women are supporting men of substance, and will conduct women’s meetings to express their voice.
“We don’t want this to continue in our community. It’s not fair, brothers, to have our babies taken from us before they reach manhood, before they can give to society what Allah (God) wants them to deliver to us as a people,” she told the all male panelists.
Min. Tony said that the solution is learning from organizations that handle the issue the best, which is the Nation Of Islam and gang intervention programs. Millions should be put into intervention, not billions to fight unjust wars, he said.
(For more information on the 100,000 Man March or to schedule a rally in your city, call (323) 789-1095.)