In a time of violent and tense relations between law enforcement and Black citizens, celebrities in the Black community are using their status as role models to show their solidarity with police and community leaders.
Over the weekend, hip-hop artist The Game, whose real name is Jayceon Terrell Taylor, hosted a town-hall style event, “Time To Unite: United Hoods + Gangs Nation,” that brought together hundreds of residents at a community center in Los Angeles, along with Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, Mayor Eric Garcetti and other local community and religious leaders,The Associated Press reported.
Other artists, including singer will.i.am, were also in attendance, and the event followed a solidarity march earlier this month where The Game, Snoop Dogg, Garcetti and Beck joined forces.
The Game called for the summit in light of the killings of Black men by police officers most recently Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota as well as the subsequent shooting deaths of five officers in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge.
The tragedies have escalated racial tensions between law enforcement and Black community members, with anger being directed at groups such as Black Lives Matter for the deaths of the eight officers. But The Game and other attendees emphasized the importance of coming together rather than creating an even larger divide during such a difficult time.
“Your life should mean more to you,” he said to the attendees. “Your life should mean more to you than what you’re showing.”
Tony Muhammad, a minister with the Nation of Islam, also spoke and called for all citizens to come together.
“Come on Black community, it’s time for us to come together and unite,” he said.
On behalf of the honorable @LouisFarrakhan Minister Tony Muhammad spoke truth & solidarity here today at the #HUNT gang/community meeting. Another power move by US, as a city unit to bring peace back to our LosAngeles. Truces were made, hands were shook & stories were told…. & most importantly, voices were heard….. WE are onto something & it feels good. The question is not, what has someone else done… The question is, what will YOU do This is OUR FIGHT TOGETHER #UniteAllHoodsAndGangs #LosAngeles #AmericaIsCrying
A video of Tony Muhammad speaking at the event posted to The Game’s Instagram page.
The Game posted about the event on his Instagram page, where he invited members and leaders of various gangs to come together for the event “to show that OUR LIVES MATTER to US,” he wrote.
“Don’t think we can’t change it & better ourselves, lead by example & make our city a safer place for our children. Because together, WE CAN !!!!” he posted.
At the event, The Game and Muhammad both addressed the issue of gang violence as well. The Game spoke in honor of the recent gang-related death of a friend he grew up in foster care with.
“I’m here to be his voice,” The Game said, according to theAP. He also said he hopes to see the streets “a little safer” by the time his own young daughter grows up.
According to The Game’s Instagram, Snoop Dogg and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan also supported the event. Earlier this month, The Game and Snoop Dogg met with Garcetti and Beck following a peaceful all-male march to the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters. The Game had also advertised for this peaceful protest on his Instagram page, calling on men of all races to unite for the cause.
Garcetti described the meeting as “extraordinarily powerful.”
From the desk of Los Angeles’s mayor @ericgarcetti….. This time it’s foreal….. We all have a job to do & it’s to keep each other alive as long as possible !!! Let my city take the lead…… Did he say Crip & Blood keep the positivity going y’all…. We got this one #HUNT #LosAngeles #MayorGarcetti #TonyMuhammad #BigBoysNeighborhood #BlackAndBrown #BlackLivesMatter #AllLivesMatter #LAwillRise [FOLLOW MY SNAPCHAT: airthuggin]
A video posted by The Game (@losangelesconfidential) on
A video of Mayor Eric Garcetti posted to The Game’s Instagram account.
The Game said he sought to “initiate peace on both sides.”
“I would be lying to you if I didn’t say I was saddened by what happened in Dallas,” The Game said of why he led the march. “I would be lying to you if I didn’t say I was angered about what occurred in Minnesota and Louisiana and Fresno. The cops that died in Dallas weren’t the cops that shot and killed Philando or Alton. As much as Philando and Alton didn’t deserve that, those cops in Dallas didn’t deserve that. And the only thing I could think of was to initiate peace on both sides, so that’s why I’m here.”
Like The Game, Black Lives Matter has also advocated for nonviolence in response to healing the relationship between Blacks and law enforcement. The group has disavowed itself from the police shootings. Following the Dallas tragedy the groupposted on its website, “There are some who would use these events to stifle a movement for change and quicken the demise of a vibrant discourse on the human rights of Black Americans. We should reject all of this.
“Black activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it. Yesterday’s attack was the result of the actions of a lone gunman. To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible.”