By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
LOS ANGELES–Bloods and Crips street organization plans for an all-out family day at the park to promote peace and unity on Memorial Day have seen a little setback. But the work for peace is ongoing.
While Memorial Day may not be the day, those committed to working through challenges and years of urban fratricide are on the case, building with one another and seeking resources to make a great day for peace possible.
They have been meeting and strategizing around ways to maintain the unity forged days after their brother Nipsey Hussle, aka Ermias Asghedom, a prominent rapper and self-made millionaire, was slain in front of his Marathon Clothing store in South L.A. He was a member of the Rollin’ 60s Crips but worked across gang and geographic lines to promote good relations and the development of the Black community and expanded opportunity.
There was hope for a May 27 broad fellowship with each other, as well as mothers of slain children and the broader community but everything from a location, money, and other support to pull it off is needed, according to key organizer LaTanya Ward, aka “F.O.”, a member of the Bloods Black P Stones gang and co-coordinator of an April 6 walk in peace held by over 500 street organization members.
“We don’t have … no backing to help us do nothing; not to help organize, to keep–even just the meetings going,” Ms. Ward told The Final Call.
A friend helped make flyers for meetings held once a week, but those meetings have dwindled to every other week, and attendance from about 50 to 10 people, she said. Even with resources and donations, the outing would be a flop if the most important, targeted population which are the gang members, are not in attendance, she said.
What they need to make the planned park day a success is first and foremost a team of coordinators comprised from each of the gangs. That may not necessarily be people from that specific area, but they have certain expertise and they can assist.
One of the problems is it looks like people are on offense, but many are still on defense with each other, she said. “Humans are naturally self-preserving,” she said. Another is that they didn’t create the situation they’re falling victim to, she said.
“We’re really just in it, and we’re all on defense, or we’re just participating in the situation that was created for us. The fact is the powers that be know they could’ve been ended it or deadened it from the rip. We just pawns, but, we just don’t know that yet,” continued Ms. Ward.
The event is designed to not just further strengthen peace amongst themselves, but to atone to mothers and families of those slain in gang wars, according to Lil’ A.D., who was integral to the April 6 peace walk crossing Slauson Ave. and Crenshaw Blvd., where Nipsey’s store and plaza stands as a landmark for the community’s cry for change.
The so-called gang members breathed new life into efforts for peace across the country, and Bloods and Crips, as well as other gang sets from Rialto, California (a suburb approximately 50 miles east of L.A.) to New York, began tying their red and blue rags together, signifying peace. Their images went viral in social media.
Some say the hope that sprang up from the streets of South Central then carried abroad demands work from everybody, but in working themselves on internal disputes, they’re uncovering more of the trauma and impact urban fighting has had on something as simple as people’s ability to communicate.
For instance, meeting agendas outlined to accomplish tasks fall by the wayside, because people just want to be heard. They have a lot to get off their chests, and sometimes conversations run off track, and it’s hard to refocus, explained Ms. Ward.“I don’t think it’s fizzling out, because what I do know is that I still have people coming to meetings talking about it, whatever side they’re on, whatever side of the fence they on about it, but they’ll come to me and be like, ‘You know, umm, that’s good F.O., you doing that … I’m proud of you Blood; I’m proud of you Cuz, but I ain’t there yet, you feel me,’ ” said Ms. Ward. She said it’s because that person may still be mad about someone or something or are so for their gang, they’re not with it or that mature yet.
“I tell them n****r, on Blackstones you gon’ be with it, when yo a** taking your last breaths on the ground. You gon’ wish it would have been a treaty, a truce, a non-aggression agreement and all that sh**,” stated Ms. Ward.
“But period! They’re talking about it, so it hasn’t fizzed out because it’s like, ‘Oh, the audacity! Oh! They think they could have made that work? And it failed in ’92 or, period. Nipsey, the s*** still a shock, and it was tied to that, so it’s still a conversation. Secretly, everybody want it … want to be safe, in a perfect world to be able to not f*****g die!”
Ms. Ward was referring to the April 28, 1992 peace treaty struck by gang members from the Imperial Courts, Jordan Downs, Nickerson Gardens and Hacienda Village housing projects in the Watts section of Los Angeles to end bloodshed that was resulting in over 1,000 murders a year in the 1980s. That came after four White cops were acquitted in ’92 of the brutal beating of Black motorist Rodney King, now deceased.
“Everybody who comes to the endeavor doesn’t have the same motives. You’re dealing with 40 years of violence, 40 years of hatred and fratricide, so you’re not going to settle that overnight,” observed Student Minister Abdul Malik Sayyid Muhammad, Western Region pepresentative for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, in an exclusive interview.
“What we saw at Ground Zero with Nipsey was the greatest sign we’ve ever seen, in my opinion,” he stated. “People may want to say it was after the Rodney King verdict, see, but that verdict was on the basis of what some White cops had done to the Black man. This is the first time we’ve ever wanted to come together on a Black man killing a Black man,” Min. Muhammad stated.
“We want to earn more of the right to help just facilitate those who are already beginning to keep the peace, and our mission is to unite, as we already have done, with gang intervention, to unite with Stop the Violence-Increase the Peace, and Cease Fire, and 2nd Call, all of the groups already doing the best they could to maintain the peace. We are now going to unite as a solid wall and do it together, because no one group can do it! It’s going to take a team effort and I don’t care about no position. I don’t want to head it. We want to get up under it and support it and support them,” said Min. Muhammad.
It can start by getting gangs to adopt moral codes in stages and degrees, one or two things, but don’t try to put too much on them, he said.
“Nurture that. If we could just say no more killings. Start with that. No more shootings. No verbal attacks on social media. Just start with just two things. Now that’s with the gangs,” said Min. Muhammad.
Rappers have a part to play by putting out more positive, uplifting lyrics, and bring conscious rap music back, he said. Then the community and world must buy-in with support for peace, jobs and education, he said. “But it can’t be no minuscule budget with you giving just enough to keep these brothers and sisters fighting and killing each other,” he added.
That is part of the goal for an upcoming Peace Ride slated for mid-October in honor of Nipsey Hussle. The United in Peace Foundation spearheading the event is also dedicating the ride to mothers of children killed in gang violence. It was originally scheduled for this June 23, but most of the venues are booked up. Alternatively, every Peace Ride, on the fourth Sunday of each month this year is being dedicated to Nipsey Hussle and the unity of the various gangs, according to Min. Muhammad. In October, it culminates with a ride in the same month commemorating the historic Million Man March.
The peace blueprint calls next for rebuilding the wasted cities, as instructed by Minister Farrakhan when the beloved Muslim leader called for 10,000 Fearless to not only make their communities safe and decent places to live, but to serve the needs and wants of suffering masses in their communities and show gang members how to build their own companies, from construction, carpeting, landscaping, to roofing, he said.
“Peace is a process, and what frustrates people is because we want immediate gratification, but Allah says seek assistance through patience and prayer. You’ve got to be patient with a 40-year war,” said Min. Muhammad, echoing sentiments from his May 12 address at the Nation of Islam headquarters Mosque Maryam in Chicago entitled, “God Is Rising.”
“It’s been 10 years of the Peace Rides, and if it takes 10 more to completely manifest peace, then it’s worth it, but remember, people are still using drugs and when they get high, they get restimulated and fights will break out. The key is to stop glorifying the violence,” he said.
For his part, Min. Muhammad plans to visit all the gangs in L.A. in Compton, Inglewood, Long Beach, Pasadena and Watts, between now and October. In part so they can feel the spirit of Minister Farrakhan, just as many did when he visited Ground Zero Nipsey Hussle’s parking lot memorial site and delivered a riveting message of love to the Rollin’ 60s, street gangs and the world.
“We have to be willing, but right now, the Minister, the Nation, we are the most consistent of everybody. People would like to overlook us, but it’s hard, because they don’t have the discipline, and that’s what we bring to the table,” said Min. Muhammad. “And it’s our mission! We believe in the resurrection of the dead and our sole purpose is to deliver the 17 million.”