By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
LOS ANGELES–Demon-strators across the country mobilized for 24 hours of peace with no drug distribution, no crime, and no violence during the 2nd Annual “National Day of Non-Violence Protest Weekend.”
Activists and organizers led unity actions in more than 20 cities with marches, rallies, and concerts to help end violence in Black and Indigenous communities.
The National Day of Non-Violence was established last year as a demonstration of love in communities with high crime, drugs, and poverty, according to organizers.
It has unified people from different faith traditions, backgrounds, and cultures to unite for one common cause, they said.
“This is a continued effort in regards to building relationships in the most impoverished communities, and we want to continue to develop programs, continue to develop outreach so they know that we’re not there just to bring peace on one day, but they’re able to see it every single day after the 17th,” said Yonasda Lonewolf, a Muslim activist and daughter of the late Native American activist Wauneta Lonewolf. The peace day was observed on Sept. 17. She was asked to co-organize the national event by its founder, Zacharias Muhammad, vice president of the Unite or Die campaign.
His idea for the National Day of Non-Violence was born in The Bluff, a neighborhood suffering from some of Atlanta’s highest levels of crime and poverty. The Bluff has become home to the Nation of Islam Southern Region’s 10,000 Fearless Headquarters, an effort designed to combat violence and other wills, while making Black communities decent places to live.
Zacharias Muhammad told a news crew the national gathering is a sign of what people united can do. “Today, we want to let the world know that we as a people–Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, and even White–are coming together to send a sign to the world that we’re ready now to make our communities safe,” he said.
From Atlanta to Detroit, Los Angeles, and New York, people rallied for peace under the hashtags #NationalStopTheKilling, #UniteOrDie, #NDNV2, and #Unite4Peace.
Rappers Snoop Dogg and The Game issued video messages supporting the day of peace.
Snoop began with a shout out to Student Minister Tony Muhammad, the Nation of Islam’s Western Region representative based in Los Angeles, and “all the brothers pushing peace around the world.”
The rap icon gave a “double shout out” to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. “Sending peace and love from Big Snoop Dogg, letting y’all know that, hey, ain’t nothing wrong with a misunderstanding, but let’s get some real understanding,” Snoop said. “Let’s communicate to be on the same page. Learn to love each other. Learn to be there for each other, because we’re all brothers. Believe that part.”
“I want everybody to know that I support everything, all the unity, the positivity, gang activists, police, you know, brothers in the hood, killing each other. … All that’s like, it gotta come to a halt and I support everything that Min. Tony is putting forward. … Live life. Love one another,” The Game said.
Some victims’ loved ones released white balloons for each person murdered in a city. In others, there were silent marches. Activists and artists also recited tributes through spoken word and song.
Aztec Dancers led the march in East L.A., where a rally and concert were organized in conjunction with the First Nation Syndicate and Soledad Enrichment Action.
“Stop the Violence! We won’t be silent!” marchers chanted in Phoenix. Events in the city included a kid zone, live entertainment, prizes, and free food.
Kansas City launched its 10,000 Fearless Conflict Mediation Service during the day of peace. Other organizations already working to stop the violence joined together to offer alternatives to bloodshed in their communities.
Drummers led the march for peace in collaboration with the Million Man March Local Organizing Committee of Greenville, Miss., that included a Heal the Hood Cleanup day.
In Atlanta, Student Minister Sharrieff Muhammad, Nation of Islam Southern Regional representative, was the keynote speaker at a “Streets Unite” gathering.
In Orlando, Fla., Student Minister Demetric Muhammad was the keynote speaker during a “Streets Unite” town hall meeting, and panel discussion, “Justice … and What It Looks Like,” at the Star Banquet Hall.
In Chicago, Student Minister Abel Muhammad, Latino representative for Min. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, spoke at a rally co-organized by Parents for Peace and Justice in the Humboldt Park neighborhood.
Framed pictures of murder victims lined steps leading to a podium with a single candle in front of each photo. The procession included a white child-sized casket and a motorcycle club escort.
One young man shared reflections on his life. He joined a gang at 13. He attributed childhood problems to domestic violence, living as a latch-key child, and abandonment by his father at 10. He found role models in the streets.
“At one point, I realized, at 17 years old, after seeing many of my friends die … I figured out that although I always said I loved the hood, although I always said I was about the hood, that I was the one destroying it,” he said.
The community is making change, said Student Minister Abel Muhammad.
“We don’t need everybody to agree with us. We just need that whoever is present, that we decide things are going to change,” he said.
(Jabril Muhammad of Oakland and Lola Muhammad of Los Angeles contributed to this report.)