I have witnessed the work with my own eyes. I have heard the negotiations between the two parties. I have seen the finger being taken off of the trigger. I have seen a life saved. LIFE Camp. That is what Erica Ford, a street general, a hero of mine, calls her violence intervention and prevention program. South Jamaica, Queens. Home of 50 and Nicki. Run-DMC and LL from just up the block. Hip-hop has roots in this community, but instead of beats, the past few years bullets have been heard ringing through the air. But, LIFE Camp, for 340 days in a row, interrupted that violence, and quieted the mother’s from crying, the homeboys from screaming, the children from breathing one last time. 340 days, interrupted that violence. Young people. Young street soldiers trained and employed by LIFE Camp to put their bodies in the middle of the fire. They have been nothing short of heroic. But, then the funding dried up like the blood on the concrete from the 17 people who were shot before LIFE Camp started their work in 2011 and in part of 2012. Held up in City Hall bureaucracy, LIFE Camp has been forced to close its community center and lay off all of the young workers. Work has been severely crippled since August 12th.
5 shot. 5 bullet holes in five bodies. 5 lives changed. 340 days of quiet nights ended. 5 shot once the money got stuck in traffic. All in August. When the young street soldiers weren’t available for deployment. When the general had her command center closed. So, now is the time for us to join the battlefield I have heard from people across the country, as I have worked tirelessly to end gun violence, that there is nothing that can be done. Kids will shoot each other and there is nothing that we can do. From politicians to the police to community members, I have seen the white flag raised in the air in defeat. But, this time we will not be defeated. The truth is that there is tremendous work being done in communities across this country to stop young people from being lowered into the ground before their parents can say goodbye. The work of Erica Ford and her team in Queens is just one remarkable example.
So, I am asking you to join in our campaign to raise $100,000. Yes ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS. To raise this money so Erica can keep her doors open and her young people can keep their jobs. And most importantly, the bullets can go back to sleep in the crisp, Fall night. Whether you got $5 on it or want to write a company check, every George Washington helps the general in the field. We have twenty-eight days to uplift the work of heroes and delay the voices of angels. That is our task at hand. That is our mission. That is how we can play a part in ending the violence.
PLEASE CONSIDER MAKING A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION by clicking on this
link –> http://tilt.tc/snyD
Once we raise the money for LIFE Camp, we will take this campaign and raise money for other incredible anti-violence programs across this nation. This is just the beginning…
Michael Skolnik is the Editor-In-Chief of GlobalGrind.com and the political director to Russell Simmons. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Trayvon Martin Foundation. Previously, Michael was an award-winning filmmaker. Follow him on twitter @MichaelSkolnik