By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan issued a clarion call for 10,000 Fearless, men and women willing to help stop the bloodshed in their communities, and committed men, women and children have been organizing and mobilizing to make his word bond. The number hasn’t been reached yet but efforts are underway to reach that important goal–and revitalize Black neighborhoods.
Participants are from different educational and socio-economic backgrounds and religious faiths. Muslim and Christian alike, these peacemakers responded to Min. Farrakhan’s call, which he made during and prior to Justice Or Else!, the October 10, 2015 commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C.
“Ten-thousand fearless men and women: That seems like a small number to do a big job, but Elijah Muhammad in The Theology of Time Lecture Series talked about how when God made Himself up, there were ‘10,000 Parts’ that became 1,” said the Minister at a special meeting convened the day after the successful gathering.
“There was a song–‘Stout-Hearted Men’–that used to be sung when I was in show business; it goes like this: ‘Give me some men, who are stout-hearted men, who will fight for the right they adore. Start me with 10 who are stouthearted men, and I’ll soon give you 10,000 more. Shoulder to shoulder, bolder and bolder, they march as they go toward the fore.’ See, when you have that kind of strength, God is Present,” he said.
“There isn’t anything that you want that you cannot achieve. We have to get that number,” the Minister added.Min. Farrakhan had asked for well-trained men and women to stand between Blacks aiming guns at each other in their neighborhoods during organizing for Justice Or Else!. According to the Violence Policy Center, nearly 85 percent of Black homicide victims are killed with guns.
In a report earlier this year, “Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2013 Homicide Data,” the center indicated the Black homicide victimization rate was four times the national rate, and nearly seven times the rate for Whites.
Some 33 cities have launched 10,000 Fearless conflict resolution centers, according to Student Minister Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad, Southern region representative of Min. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.
He has been touring the U.S., helping to establish the centers.
In Atlanta, he and Reverend Timothy McDonald, pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church, successfully opened the 10,000 Fearless Men & Women Headquarters of the South, prompting Min. Farrakhan to applaud their beginning effort and its value as an example.
The newest centers have opened in Chattanooga, Tenn. and Phoenix, Ariz. “This thing is spreading like wildfire,” Min. Sharrieff Muhammad said. To get started, call the 10,000 Fearless Atlanta Headquarters at (678) 974-7514 and request the step-by-step manual on how to set up, he said.
In Jacksonville, Fla., Jackson, Miss., and Birmingham, Ala., 10,000 Fearless houses have been set up. The model comes from the work of Min. Sharrieff Muhammad and Rev. McDonald in The Bluff, a section of Atlanta known for heroin addiction, violence and suffering.
In Atlanta, the 10,000 Fearless efforts have sparked grassroots work with community clean-ups and beautification, a food bank, free clothing, health screenings and conflict resolution. There is outreach that advocates for veterans and a youth camp is planned for this summer.
In Birmingham there are now two 10,000 Fearless homes, and everyone is up, looking for houses, said Student Minister Sharrieff Muhammad.
Spreading the gospel, training to reclaim communities
Within two days of his visit to Mosque No. 32 in Phoenix, the Muslims secured a car and a van. In two more days, they had two more cars, a home, a conflict resolution center, and a backyard garden.
“When I went out for their grand opening, that Saturday, 1,000 people came through that house,” Min. Sharrieff Muhammad said.
Most of Phoenix’s grand opening activities occurred at Aya Mini Park, which had not been used in about four years, according to Student Minister Charles Muhammad, who leads the Phoenix mosque.
Muslims showed a video of Min. Farrakhan’s “Justifiable Homicide: Black Youth in Peril” in the park, which had been overrun by gangs. The community was afraid to use the park, Charles Muhammad said.
“What really just set it off was two young brothers got killed at that park,” he added.
The 10,000 Fearless Phoenix established a food program and held a community clean up. City workers provided two large dumpsters, shovels, rakes and wheelbarrows.
Their efforts commended during an African American Advisory Board meeting conducted by the Phoenix Police Department.
“They stopped the meeting, and expressed to the police department that the 10,000 Fearless are the ones out here in the community making a difference,” said Hannibal Muhammad, who attended on behalf of Charles Muhammad.
“The head of the advisory board said that we deserved a standing ovation, and they proceeded to clap for all of the hard work that has been done,” Hannibal Muhammad said.
When someone asked police officials about training civilians on how to handle situations as the 10,000 Fearless are doing, the police representatives replied they could not train the same way.
Officials said “that would be a liability on them, since we are willing to give our lives for the betterment of our people and community,” added Hannibal Muhammad.
“It was pleasing to the heart to see that our community is pleased with us. That feeling became very inspiring to go harder for our people.”
“It really shows how much love is lacked in our community and how much more work we must do to bring unity among us. It really has opened the doors for people to help and to remove the stigma of this being a Muslim thing,” Hannibal Muhammad said.
Efforts to stop crime and save lives
Min. Sharrieff Muhammad went to work in Chattanooga, where the 10,000 Fearless efforts to rid crime and save lives in Alton Park garnered a front page article in the city’s Times Free Press.
The article discussed how the Chattanooga Police Department had failed with its Violence Reduction Initiative in blighted neighborhoods.
Kevin Muhammad of Muhammad Study Group of Chattanooga recited statistics from the story: “There were 53 non-fatal gang-related shootings in 2013, 67 in 2014, 70 in 2015. Gang-related homicides remained steady with 12 in 2013, 13 in 2014, and 14 in 2015.”
Four years ago, when they moved into the business center where they continue to hold meetings, the site was a haven for gangs, drugs and crime, he said. “When we moved into this area and just established a presence, immediately the crime went down,” said Student Minister Kevin Muhammad.
With the community’s help, they continue to make a difference. Residents and business owners helped purchase, paint, and put signage on a car used for patrols and community assistance. A homeowner donated a dilapidated house in a high crime neighborhood.
“Overcome your fear to ask for help to do what the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan instructed us to do,” said Kevin Muhammad. “When I asked, I received, and the people are giving us what we ask for when we ask for it in the spirit of the Minister.”
Pastor Timothy Careathers, senior pastor at the Westside Missionary Baptist Church, has signed on to partner with the Muslins, said Kevin Muhammad. The church and Muslim study group are establishing a community garden in the church-owned lot next to the 10,000 Fearless headquarters.
Plans call for building a community park and amphitheater with the church’s two other empty lots across the street, Kevin Muhammad said.
Finding a way to peace: Conflict resolution training and centers
The 10,000 Fearless in New Orleans, under the leadership of Student Minister Willie Muhammad of Mosque No. 46, answered Min. Farrakhan’s call quickly.
The conflict resolution work actually began in 2011 through the Peacekeepers, he told The Final Call.
Fruit of Islam Captain Dennis Muhammad founded the organization of men and women to help maintain peace in communities with high rates of gun violence. He has been organizing Peacekeepers for some 11 years now.
“When I heard the Minister call for the 10,000 Fearless, I was excited, because I knew that the Minister understood as well as what we were already doing, you have to go out there in the streets where our youth are,” Capt. Dennis Muhammad said.
“They’re not in the churches or in the mosques. They’re not the ones attending these town hall meetings. They’re in the communities. They’re on the corners, so we went out there and met our youth where they are.”
The New Orleans 10,000 Fearless developed an anonymous tip “Squash the Beef Hotline (504-500-1706),” and when word of their work reached Min. Farrakhan, he decided their model should be spread into 10,000 Fearless and the conflict resolution centers, Min. Willie Muhammad said.
“When we first started this work, we did not think about the difficulty. The idea was so timely, that we immediately knew it was the right thing to do, and we just went to work. That spirit helped us to avoid ‘paralysis by analysis,’ ” he added.
Five years later and with innovative training, they have successfully resolved 34 conflicts, helped 14 cities set up mediation teams and have conducted 10 trainings in person or online. Calls to come into cities and conduct trainings are increasing, according to Min. Willie Muhammad.
The key to success has been consistency, he said.
There have been 57 recent murders in New Orleans since 2016, and some are expecting the numbers to fall short of last year’s 167, he said.
“We constantly stress to those whom we train that this initiative is a pro-active one. We strive to get there before someone has been injured or gravely injured. … We will continue to do all we can to help the Minister,” vowed Willie Muhammad.
New Orleans’ efforts and trainings have inspired work at the N.O.I.’s flagship Mosque Maryam, said Student Minister Jeffrey Muhammad, an assistant to Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad.
Chicago launched its 10,000 Fearless on June 17. “We have a hotline number (312-690-4290) where people can call if they’re having a beef, if they’re having violence, if they’re having trouble. They can call the number and they can get a chance to talk to someone through their issues,” Jeffrey Muhammad said.
According to the Chicago Tribune, shootings were up more than 88 percent in the first three months of 2016, compared to last year. Police attributed the surge to gang violence.
“We have some deep seated, deep set murders here, long term murders going back and forth between just the street organizations, and it is only with serious spiritual counsel that these young men and young women get through it,” he said.
Min. Ishmael Muhammad has been personally making himself available to mediate conflicts. “He’s already sat with two of the major street organizations here to curb major violence and murders that were going on,” said Jeffery Muhammad.
Chicago’s Local Organizing Committee partners with social service agencies, the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, street organizations, churches like Father Michael Pfleger’s St. Sabina Catholic Church, Breaking Bread Ministries at LaSalle Street Church, and organizations of Black men willing to join the 10,000 Fearless, he said.
“Most of these people have already had some efforts, but we’re able to establish a collective here in Chicago where we all agree that we can bring the best of what we do and bring them under one umbrella,” Jeffery Muhammad said.
“We’re trying to set up safe zones in every considered dangerous neighborhood and hopefully we’ll be able to set up a safe zone on every block.”
Detroit is also dealing with a war on two fronts–fighting the unjust killings of Black men, women and children by law enforcement and fighting fratricidal violence in Black communities.
It has established the Detroit Stop the Beef Hotline (313-769-8232) in the Cody-Rouge neighborhood, one of the roughest parts of the Motor City.
Within 10 days of the 10,000 Fearless launch, 15-year-old Jaden Dorris, a mentee of the Cody Turnaround Program, was found dead with two other Black male adults in a reputed drug house.
Young mother Ashley Holloway was killed a few blocks away. The 27-year-old was shot after she and her male companion got into an argument with another group at a party store.
The pair drove away. The other group pursued and shot her in the head. She died a few days later after being taken off life support.
Members of Detroit’s Muhammad Mosque No. 1 walked door-to-door, talking to residents. They distributed 250 Stop the Beef Crisis Cards in 95 degree weather–especially significant as they were fasting from food and water during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.
“I’m glad to see the Nation out in the community. What y’all are doing is needed, and I like this service,” commented Karen, a 40-year-old resident. She shared how her daughter was car-jacked in their driveway and how she, too, decided to take back her community that day.
As part of their efforts to curb conflicts among youth at early ages, Mosque No. 54 in the Western Region, is holding a summer camp for youth.
Muhammad’s Day Camp is for Muslim children and those from the community, said Student Minister Robert Muhammad. The camp is the brainchild of Van Muhammad. His daughter, Maryam, helps in the effort. Both are teachers.
The camp hosts children ages 5-12 from the mosque and community from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Older youth serve as volunteers. “We believe that by having families interact this way with the mosque, we can familiarize more people with the lifestyle, principles and habits of a civilized culture and once the parents see this, they will want to see and become familiar with a way of life that will prevent their children from falling into the culture of death,” he told The Final Call.
He thanked Student Captain Richard Muhammad, and Van Muhammad, and his daughter Maryam. “Without their help, we couldn’t do what we do,” Min. Robert Muhammad said.
“We have set out to carry out the instructions of our leader, and I believe we are well on our way to bringing an answer to our communities’ problem of self-destruction,” he added.
In Tampa, Fla., over 150 people attended a free Stop The Killing Tour and community event, organized by the New Black Panther Party of Tampa Bay.
Participants included Connie Burton, a local freedom fighter, BYC (Building Your Community), a non-profit that helps make neighborhoods decent and safe, Chad Muhammad, Min. Farrakhan’s representative at the Muhammad Tampa Study Group, and other organizers and talent.
Minister Hashim Nzinga, national chairman of the New Black Panther Party, was keynote speaker. He praised Min. Farrakhan and his 1989 “Stop the Violence” call. That was the catalyst for the Tampa event, he said.
“The reason our children are killing each other is because they forgot our great history makers who changed the course of the world we live in,” said Min. Nzinga.
In Milwaukee, Fruit of Islam Capt. Dennis Muhammad visited Mercy Memorial Baptist Church in Milwaukee, Wisc., in June to teach and train Peacemakers during his 10,000 Fearless tour.
Six hour workshops consisted of CPR training, self-defense, conflict resolution, non-violent crisis intervention training and the proper handling of people.
At Mosque No. 60 in Nashville, Tn., the 10,000 Fearless ranks are growing. Members have started Youth Sunday, with community organizers attending mosque meetings and sharing their vision and the work of the 10,000 Fearless.
Jaffee Judah, president of AAMM LYFE (Anybody Aiming to Motivate Millions), spoke at the meeting.
The former gang member now “Bangs 4 Liberation.” He has turned his life around and now reaches out to help others avoid his mistakes.
Other Youth Sunday speakers have included Amir Muhammad, Tariq Muhammad (who assists with the farming plots at Tennessee State University), Samuel X, and Karimah Muhammad who works with the Local Organizing Committee’s “Money Mob,” which floods Black businesses with patrons.
Tennessee’s 10,000 Fearless activities included Fruit of Islam and Muslim women giving away fans during the hot summer months and a “How to Eat to Live” seminar conducted by Muslim women, who offered healthy dishes and recipes.
(Mahalieka Muhammad of Detroit, Wanda Muhammad of Tampa, Fla., Flarrie K. Muhammad of Nashville, Tenn., Dwayne X of Milwaukee, and Kennata Muhammad of Atlanta, Ga. contributed to this report.)