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OP-ED: Prevent Long Hot Summer of Violence in America

Russell Simmons, Exclusive | 5/23/2019, 6 a.m.
Across the nation and throughout the world, millions of people are still morning the tragic and senseless killing of our ...

Across the nation and throughout the world, millions of people are still morning the tragic and senseless killing of our Brother Nipsy Hustle. We are again reminded of the terrible sickness of violence in communities across the United States.

We should not wait for another one of our hero’s to be killed before we stand up to take action to prevent this plague of violence from continuing. Nipsy was a great example of what can happen when a young man from our community puts his head down and transcends the traps that are laid by the enemies of our youth in America.

Let me be clear: All those who have the capacity and opportunity to do their part to end the senseless spiral of violence but do nothing by their omission are aligned with the forces that are against our communities’ safety, resilience and progress. Complacency with violence directly contributes to its devastating continuance.

There are, however, very successful programs in nearly every hot pocket in our inner cities that are alarmingly underfunded. Those effective antiviolence programs are in constant need of volunteers. I have personally witnessed and worked closely with so many extremely productive and amazing programs that in fact prevent violence.

Effective programs like Erica Ford’s “Life Camp” in Queens, New York or Captain Dennis Muhammed’s “Peace Keepers” efforts in over 20 cities are in need of additional funding and support from city, state and federal agencies. Of course, in addition, the private sector and local community support systems must also be summoned to help out. Now is the time to act to prevent future violence.

These two programs are shining examples of how much better and effective local interventions are than the police who in many cases are disconnected, not trusted, brutal and too often fatal. But despite the results of current research studies on what works, city budgets in too many states are now being turned over to ineffective police containment strategies because of the undue influence of police unions and other conservative political forces. Violence cannot be contained. It has to be prevented by trusted and effective community-based programs.

Are we prepared to sit back this summer and watch more than 50 of our kids get shot and killed every weekend in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, Miami, or in St. Louis? Because if we don’t act urgently now, that’s what is gonna happen!

Where is the national debate or priority about our children’s safety from violence? It appears that the hip-hop community is the only authentic and caring voice that is speaking out effectively and consistently on this important issue and “Taking back responsibility.”

Most religious and political figures won’t bring it up publicly or earnestly unless we do it first. I will do my part. Will you?

No matter how big or small your impact might be, everyone’s input and support is needed now. Even if you only will just write to your member of the U.S. Congress to urge more funding for community antiviolence programs, that will also be helpful.

The clock is ticking. The summer is coming. Are you prepared to lose a love one or a friend to violence in our communities? Or are you going to join me and others to help make a lasting difference? Thank you for your response. With great love, all things are possible.