Rally at Northwestern confronts youth violence in Liberty City

caines | 4/11/2013, 5:30 a.m.

During the 60s Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. always utilized students to advance the non-violent approach, but before his dream became a reality he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. To remember Kings legacy a rally was held at Miami Northwestern Senior High School to hear solutions from kids and members of the community on how to stop the senseless bloodshed thats occurring in Liberty City. These drive-by shootings are not taking place in Aventura or the white neighborhoods, said Thema Campbell, president of Girl Power during the rally. They are occurring in the Black community. She says sometimes the community in which a person lives places them at risk of getting shot. Liberty City has had a large amount of drive-by shootings and this frightens many of its residents, which prompted City of Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones to collaborate with the City of Miami Police Department, the Liberty City Trust, the newly formed Stand Up Against Violence Alliance and WEDR 99 JAMZ to host the student gathering. We want to [learn] from the kids how to stop the violence, Spence-Jones said. We are out here dealing with crime, drugs and guns every day. One female Northwestern student pointed out to the audience that there are not enough programs or positive things to do in her community and thats why kids are getting into trouble. We need more things to do to occupy our time, she said. We have nothing to do but run the streets. A male student suggested that theres a lot of carnage because the rap industry is glorifying violence. We are trying to put pressure on entertainers to stop rapping about violence, said Uncle Luke, rap artist and Northwestern football coach. They talk about what they see but at the same time they have a social responsibility to the community. Rev. Dr. Gaston E. Smith, senior pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Liberty City says if we want entertainers to stop rapping about violence theres only one alternative. All a person has to do is stop buying their music, said Smith. Then theyll get the point and start rapping about the positive things in the community. Numerous crimes in the Black community are never brought to court because the code of the street says dont snitch. But Judge Orlando Prescott has another focal point when it comes to snitching. If the KKK drove through Liberty City and shot up everybodys house somebody will get the tag number and report the crime, Judge Prescott said. But when we have a drive-by in our neighborhood nobody knows anything. Pierre Rutledge, chairman, The Stand Up Against Violence Alliance says the coalition was formed in order for Liberty City to survive so that residents could come together for the common goal of saving the lives of their children. Dr. King stood for non-violence and I want to know where did we get off track, asked Rutledge. As we start listening to our kids, they will tell us how to fix the problem. The event was hosted by Ms. Kimmie of 99 JAMZ and she concluded the panel discussion by asking everyone in attendance to take a pledge to stand up against violence. The commemoration finishedwith a press conference at the Sherdavia Jenkins Peace Park located in Liberty City to announce anti-violence and safety initiatives thats in progress throughout the community. We have a lot of drive-by shootings in the Liberty Square Housing Projects, and initiatives such as cameras have been placed throughout the projects to stop the violence, said Sara Smith, president of the Liberty Square Resident Council during the press conference. The whole development will be closed off and there will be only two main entrances. By Jimmie Davis, Jr.Miami Times writer