The Grand Rapids Study Group Invites You:


The Ministry of Spiritual Development  
The mission of the N.O.I. as a whole and of each of its parts is the spiritual development of the Lost-Found Nation of Islam in North America and our people throughout the world. The mission of the N.O.I. is the resurrection spiritually of a dead people and the entire focus and meaning of its work is to bring about this resurrection as quickly as possible. This is the purpose that gives meaning to all other activities engaged in and is the criterion by which we expect to be judged by Allah and His Messenger, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. As such, the spiritual dimension must be present in all and excluded from none. (copied from AtonementCommission.com).  
For more information, call Student Minister Marcus Muhammad (269) 861-6504 e-mail: muhammadmarcus1@gmail.com     
  

From The Final Call Newspaper

    State Of Emergency - Black skins, White minds and false promises

    By Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor- | Last updated: Sep 20, 2016 - 6:09:26 PM

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    What's your opinion on this article?
    farrakhan_union-temple_09-27-2016.jpg
    The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan speaks Sept. 18 at Union Temple Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Photos: Mark 6X

    Farrakhan warns against evil political choices in 2016 and the consequences of practicing White America’s demonic ways

    WASHINGTON—There are two “very evil people” who are the main contenders for the U.S. presidency, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan warned guests attending the Union Temple Baptist Church annual Men’s Day.

    The Rev. Willie Wilson, pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church, and Min. Farrakhan’s “brother and companion in struggle” issued a “call to action” in response to a “state of emergency” for men’s day this year, and, as he’s done for more than 39 years, the Muslim leader answered the call.
    union-temple_09-27-2016.jpg
    Audience applauds message delivered at Union Temple Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.

    “The despised, the rejected, the lost that needs to be found; the unloved, the unwanted, the unsaved that need to be saved,” are among the souls to be redeemed, Min. Farrakhan said. “That which was called the irredeemable, needs their redeemer; that which was considered hopeless and lost and beyond ability to save, must be serviced today in the name of Him who is Savior; Who is Redeemer, Who is The Finder of that which was lost.

    “He said ‘I didn’t come to judge you, I came to save you from your sins,’ ” said the Muslim leader. “But then, my teacher, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, ‘not saving you from your sins, but saving you from the sins of White people that you have learned by your sojourn among them for 460 years.’ “You never were in Africa, what you have become today. Never. Never. You’re not yourself.                     
    union-temple__doug-e-fresh_09-27-2016.jpg
    Thomas Muhammad, left, and Doug E Fresh at Union Temple Baptist Church. Photo: Mark 6X

    You’re a White person in Black skin,” and therein is the critical choice facing Black people Min. Farrakhan explained in his Sept. 18 address. “That’s why it’s so easy for you to kill your brother, lie on your sister, rape your daughter.

    “It’s easy for you to do those foul things to yourself and one another, because the enemy has made us unto himself. You’re not yourself. You’re the product. You should have it in your coat, on your lapel, ‘Made in America.’                     
    union-temple_crowd_09-27-2016.jpg
    Men line up to hear a special message from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan delivered Sept. 18 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Mark 6X

    “Don’t tell me you’re the mayor of Washington, or Baltimore, or New York. Don’t tell me you’re the President of the United States of America. To them, you’re still a nigger. They have no respect for you, no matter how high you rise in their world.”
    Just hours earlier, President Barack Obama pleaded with guests attending the 46th annual legislative conference of the Congressional Black Caucus that he would consider it a “personal insult” if they did not vote for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to succeed him as president. “My name may not be on the ballot, but our progress is on the ballot,” Mr. Obama said. “Tolerance is on the ballot. Democracy is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot.”

    But President Obama’s legacy is not to be fairly judged by those who will succeed him, or by those who opposed and condemned him, literally from the day he took office, said Min. Farrakhan. Those same critics of President Obama have continuously referred to him and to First Lady Michelle Obama using “dirty names” bordering on the obscene.

    Today, there are two “very evil people” contending for the White House today, said Min. Farrakhan. “Which one is worse, Lucifer, Satan, or the devil?” Ironically Minister Farrakhan pointed out, “the best woman who’s ever been in that White House is coming out of it in a few months,” and like President Jimmy Carter, history may eventually remember Mr. Obama as a better “former president” than he was when he was the president, and confined by the dictates of his office.
    rev-wilson_union-temple_09-27-2016.jpg

    But for now, Min. Farrakhan warned: “You’ve got no choice.” The politicians have “been promising you. They make a promise and they never fulfill it.” As far as Republican nominee Donald Trump is concerned: “You vote for him he’ll put you on a rocket ship to hell. Hillary’s rocket ship may not have as much octane in it, but she’s going in the same direction. Do you really think she will do any better for you?”


    None of the political leaders on the scene today can intercede with God, who is in command today, said Min. Farrakhan. Conventional politics cannot solve the problems Black people are confronting today because, “God intends to break the bond because you are made in America. God has marked our children to inherit the Promised Land.“Don’t let your children inherit the Promised Land while you go to hell with pharaoh. Don’t sell your soul for a little money,” Minister Farrakhan advised. The political establishment never keeps its promises to suffering people. “Show me the promises they made to the Native people, and tell me did they ever fulfill them? Show me the promises that they made to us, and did they fulfill them?

    “Trump said: ‘You ain’t got nothing to lose.’ He ain’t lying. And when he tells the truth, you’re mad. He said your schools are no good. How do you know the schools are no good? Look at the product that they produce. You ain’t no good for your people!”

    The only way White politicians can intercede or deter the wrath of God and slow down the wrath of God is to give you justice that you deserve, the Minister said.

    A trumpet is being sounded today because this is an emergency time, Min. Farrakhan explained. Our children are the ones that God has marked to inhabit the Promised Land. The only way the elders can make it—except as you become as a child and accept the real gospel.

    “God is telling you, he didn’t come to integrate you. No, brothers and sisters don’t sell your souls for a little money. Be what Christ wants—Christian soldiers, marching. This is the call today. Open the doors, and let the sick and the lame in, and above all pastors, stop running the young away,” said Minister Farrakhan.

    “You Democrats have been in that party a long time. Answer me, what did you get? You got a president. He’s worried about his legacy. You want Hillary to get in to protect your legacy, because Trump said, the minute he gets in, he’s gonna reverse the Affordable Care Act, because that’s your signature achievement.

    “I just want to tell you Mr. President. You’re from Chicago, and so am I. I go out in the street with the people. I visited the worst neighborhoods. I talked to the gangs. While I was out there talking to them, they said: ‘You know Farrakhan, the president ain’t never come. Could you get him to come and look after us?’

    “There’s your legacy Mr. President. It’s in the street with your suffering people, Mr. President, and if you can’t go and see about them, then don’t worry about your legacy, if you didn’t earn your legacy with us.

    “We put you there. You fought the rights of gay people. You fought for the rights of this people and that people. You fight for Israel. Your people are suffering and dying in the streets, and you failed to do what should have been done,” Min. Farrakhan said of President Obama.

    “But it’s never too late. Come on back to the ‘hood, and start organizing like you did, and with your influence all over the world,let’s make a new and better people, and from us, if it’s Allah’s will, we can build a new and better America,” Min. Farrakhan said.
    farrakhan_union-temple_09-27-2016b.jpg

    He’s “a spokesperson for the poor,” wrote @aboog19, “grace and mercy from Allah” wrote @ sisterdonna, and “food for the soul” wrote @nestaplc on Twitter.


    A standing room only church crowd in the sanctuary, an overflow crowd in the lower level, nearly 9,000 watched on the church’s live stream, another 1,000 watched via Student Minister Carlos Muhammad’s Periscope live feed and countless others followed the Minister’s message via social media.

    “I look forward to Mens Day at Union Temple because I know my soul will be fed when I come to hear Rev. Willie Wilson and his special guest Minister Farrakhan. Some might have been offended when he said we were ‘Made in America.’ It’s true. Look at how far we’ve fallen,” Shameeka Anderson told The Final Call.

    “Our men can’t get jobs, our women run the home with children and no man, our dollar leaves our community as soon as we get paid, we are in bad health, we fill the jails and so much more. I could go on and on but you get my point. We are made in America.”

    “I knew I was looking for something. I just wasn’t sure what it was but after hearing Minister Farrakhan I knew the answer as soon as I heard it. I’m so glad I came. He made me want to start my life all over again. He made me want to get right with God,” said David Richardson.

    @billknox thanked Student Minister Carlos Muhammad for the live broadcast on Periscope but as the Minister continued in his presentation @billknox wrote, “He pretty much hates America.” @grassrootsjamil responded by writing, “He hates EVIL.”

    In 1979 when Minister Farrakhan was rebuilding the Nation of Islam and the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Rev. Wilson bravely allowed Minister Farrakhan to speak at Union Temple. Even though he lost members in protest, Rev. Wilson has maintained this decades-long relationship and continues to welcome Minister Farrakhan to his church. He has gained new members and a stronger presence in the Black community in his demonstration of Black unity.

    It wasn’t warm wishes for all on social media. @obamasukks wrote on Periscope, “black racists.”
    Sonya wrote on the church’s comment page while watching, “Truth is truth and the words coming out of his mouth is the truth so maybe we should be digesting what he’s saying.” Florinicia Williams wrote, “Thank you for TRUTH which set my Brother Aaron free which in turn set me free mentally, physically and morally. ... Truth teller in all ways understood.”

    Minister Farrakhan invited the audience to hear his message celebrating the 21st Anniversary of the Holy Day of Atonement and the Million Man March. That address will be delivered Oct. 16 in Atlanta, Ga. He plans to offer “the truth of both candidates.”

    (Nisa Islam Muhammad contributed to this report.)

From The Final Call Newspaper

The Final Call takes a look at mass incarceration in America, where the money is and goes and what the future holds for a country that leads the world in locking people up.

Phone calls, slave labor, vending and profits

How mass incarceration still feeds lucrative prison industrial complex in U.S.
A long battle has been waged by prison advocates, inmates, and their loved ones against what they contend is profiteering on the part of phone companies that contract with private prisons.  In some cases, a call out of prison can cost as much as $14 per minute.  Photo: Justicewire.org
A long battle has been waged by prison advocates, inmates, and their loved ones against what they contend is profiteering on the part of phone companies that contract with private prisons. In some cases, a call out of prison can cost as much as $14 per minute. Photo: Justicewire.org

LOS ANGELES— Prison abolition groups are fighting to cut the tentacles of the prison industrial complex saying that it dehumanizes and exploits inmates largely through private corporations.
Prisoner advocates say the high costs of prisons are fueled by stock trading, prison labor, prison construction, exorbitant phone call fees, and other money made on the backs of the poor.
“The fight to end mass incarceration is immense. This is a country that was founded on a lot of those principles to criminalize and exploit people of color,” said Daniel Carillo, executive director of Enlace.

The alliance of low-wage worker centers, unions, and community organizations in Mexico and in the U.S. organizes for racial and economic justice.

Its National Private Prison Divestment Campaign targets investors in the Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group, the two largest private prison companies in the United States. Their private prisons are slated for cuts with a Justice Department Aug. 18 announcement that the federal government would phase out use of private prisons.

Mr. Carillo said the Justice Department’s efforts are a step forward, but companies are scrambling to determine what their next steps are for expanding mass incarceration—and making money.
Enlace has been meeting with groups to push for the closure of immigrant detention centers, most of which privatize, he said.

Phone calls, commissary and price gouging
“Over the last couple of decades, this industry has really been created from nothing,” said Carrie Wilkinson, Prison Phone Justice Director for the Human Rights Defense Center.
In this Aug. 14, 2015 photo, Larry Stephney holds wooden products he helped make while he was an inmate at a privately run prison in Nashville, Tenn.  Stephney says inmates were required to build plaques, birdhouses, dog beds and cornhole games for officials who sold the items through an online business and at a local fl ea market.Photo: AP Wide World Photos
In this Aug. 14, 2015 photo, Larry Stephney holds wooden products he helped make while he was an inmate at a privately run prison in Nashville, Tenn. Stephney says inmates were required to build plaques, birdhouses, dog beds and cornhole games for officials who sold the items through an online business and at a local fl ea market.Photo: AP Wide World Photos

The whole web of prison for profits grew off the prison phone industry, she said.

“Thirty years ago, prisoners picked up the phone and made a collect call to your A long battle has been waged by prison advocates, inmates, and their loved ones against what they contend is profiteering on the part of phone companies that contract with private prisons. In some cases, a call out of prison can cost as much as $14 per minute. Photo: Justicewire.org family or their loved ones for support and now there’s been an entire industry created with the business model of a company going to a correctional facility and being granted a monopoly contract in exchange for a kickback paid to the correctional facility based off of gross telephone revenues,” Ms. Wilkinson told The Final Call.

Over time, she said, the government has seen an opportunity for profits through prison phone calls. Prison phone rates have long been based on the amount of kickback, which works backwards, she said.

Instead of offering the best service for the lowest price, prison phone contracts include kickbacks of up to 93.6 percent of gross revenues going back to the institutions, she said.

For every dollar spent, almost 94 cents goes to the Arizona Department of Corrections which has a contract with Century Link, observed Ms. Wilkinson.

“The prison phone industry is a billion dollar industry. The last number I saw regarding kickbacks paid nationwide I believe was 2013 and the number was $460 million paid to correctional facilities in a year,” Ms. Wilkinson told The Final Call.

Those kickbacks were generated solely from prisoners and their families, some of the poorest people in the country, unti the Federal Communications Commission stepped in.

Through the 2011 Campaign for Prison Phone Justice, co-founded by the Human Rights Defense Center, activists won rate caps for interstate calls, effective February 2014.

Rates for collect calls were capped at 25 cents a minute and for 21 cents a minute for debate or prepaid calls, said Ms. Wilkinson. That led to a significant increase in call volume since people could afford to make calls, though the rates are still too high, she said.

She stated, “In 2010, a 15- minute call from the Washington Department of Corrections cost $18.30 as one of the highest in the country, and now that same call costs $1.65.”

Inmates from Oak Glen Fire Camp in Riverside retreat to higher ground May 14, 2014 as they work to control the fire near Oriole Court in Carlsbad.  Photo: MGN Online
Inmates from Oak Glen Fire Camp in Riverside retreat to higher ground May 14, 2014 as they work to control the fire near Oriole Court in Carlsbad. Photo: MGN Online

But companies just took the opportunity to increase in-state call rates after that, she said. And there was also an acceleration in the use of video monitor visits, instead of in-person visits, and money transfer fees to put money on prisoners’ books so they could purchase items from prison commissaries.

The latter presented a dual edged sword with families paying exorbitant fees to transfer funds and prisoners price gouged to buy what should be reasonably priced items, she explained.
With the use of monitors, loved ones must now pay fees to visit with someone who is behind bars as there is a charge to pick up a phone, talk to and see someone on-screen. “What I personally fi nd particularly egregious about the video presentations is that in a number of facilities, the facilities are eliminating in-person visitations altogether, and in some of the contracts I’ve reviewed, the kickbacks paid to the facility is based on volume,” Ms. Wilkinson said.

“I think that we’re now personally affected by mass incarceration. If we don’t have a personal family member who’s incarcerated, we have a friend who has a family member, or we know someone. It’s much more personal to us and we have an opportunity to hear about these things,” she said.

Tax breaks and prison industry
National activists are pushing Congress to eradicate the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks private prison corporations receive under the guise of real estate investments.

According to Bob Sloan, executive director of the Voters Legislative Transparency Project, the problem stems from a last minute settlement brokered in 2012 when the majority Republican Congress threatened to shut down the government over budget debates.

It included an authorization from Congress for federal prison industries to join a program that exempts certified state and local departments of corrections and other eligible entities from normal restrictions on the sale of goods made by prisoners and distributed between states. Typically prison products had to be sold to government or state agencies and sales were limited to the states in which the products were produced.

The Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program lifts some restrictions and permits certifi ed entities to sell such goods to the federal government for more than the previous $10,000 limit.
The program in part was supposed to put inmates in realistic work environments, pay local prevailing wages for similar work, and help inmates gain marketable skills to increase their rehabilitation and employment when released.

But many inmates receive nowhere near prevailing wages, activists argued.

Daniel Carillo
Daniel Carillo

‘Cash cows’ milked by the system?
“It’s really a modern day slavery that causes a burden on the family from something as simple as products in outdated vending machines marked up extremely high, like the cost of an average frozen burrito which is $5-7,” said Ansar Muhammad, a Nation of Islam Western Region Prison Reform minister and co-founder of the H.E.L.P.E.R. Foundation gang intervention and prevention organization.

“Prisoners are cash cows and have been for many, many years,” he stated. He worked in the prison laundry department when locked down.


‘The fight to end mass incarceration is immense. This is a country that was founded on a lot of those principles to criminalize and exploit people of color.’
–Daniel Carillo, Executive director of Enlace

“I made 15 cents an hour and remember at the end of the month, I was able to get me a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream after that. That was the highlight,” Ansar Muhammad said. “Can you imagine all the inmates that don’t have any family or outside support?” They wound up with nothing.

In 1980, the American Legislative Exchange Council began driving laws benefi tting corporations and privatizing everything associated with prisons, such as inmate bank accounts run by a private bank in Florida, Mr. Sloan told The Final Call.

Every inmate is charged $4 a month, whether money fl ows through his account or not. If he accrues fees over a year and gets $100 all of a sudden, fees are paid right off the top, he explained.

“In 2013, the last count, there were 309 full-time factories operating coast to coast employing over a million inmates and most of those factories are hooked up with these different private companies,” he stated.

Those include potato cultivation, harvesting and distribution by the Idaho Department of Corrections, as well as private medical care by different health care organizations.

“Both Elijah Muhammad and Minister Farrakhan Muhammad have told the world that the Black man and woman are the chosen people of God,” said Nation of Islam Prison Reform Minister Abdullah Muhammad. “Minister Farrakhan said that this is a spiritual problem calling for a spiritual solution.”

Citing scripture, he said, it is prophesied that the people of God would be snared in holes and hid in prison houses. “They are for a prey. The snare is the crack cocaine pipeline to finance a war. The prey are the people of God entrapped and entangled in the distribution and sale of the cocaine which results in mass incarceration,” Min. Abdullah Muhammad said.

“Once snared, the lobbyists go to work on the politicians to pass laws that allow the corporations that they represent to prey on the ensnared to feed their treasuries by providing business opportunities to phone companies, clothing companies, food service, personal hygiene products and cheap labor, etc.,” he continued.

Under the National Correctional Industries Association, prisoners make almost everything from apparel, hardware, chemicals, decals and tags and license plates, eyeglasses, fabrics, furniture, lighting, electronics and entertainment, software, shoes, sewing machines and food products.

Prison Policy Initative
“It’s an evil wheel, and in order to stop it, really put a dent in it, we’ve got to get rid of the fodder that they’re using for labor,” Mr. Sloan said.

Reduce incarceration, reduce overcrowded prisons, and get people back on the streets, to their families, and work to not incarcerate people except when they pose serious threats to other humans, he recommended.

“That used to be what it was, a last straw, but it’s moved away from that. Now it’s mandatory minimum sentencing, prison for 10 years. They know you have a shelf life for 10 years, and they’re going to get to utilize them for 10 years,” Mr. Sloan argued.

However, those same people that worked for prisons while incarcerated making chain-link fences for 10 years are rendered unqualified once released.

In this June 15, 2010 file photo, the Idaho Correctional Center is shown south of Boise, Idaho, operated by Corrections Corporation of America.  The Justice Department says it’s phasing out its relationships with private prisons after a recent audit found the private facilities have more safety and security problems than ones run by the government.  Photo: AP Wide World Photos
In this June 15, 2010 file photo, the Idaho Correctional Center is shown south of Boise, Idaho, operated by Corrections Corporation of America. The Justice Department says it’s phasing out its relationships with private prisons after a recent audit found the private facilities have more safety and security problems than ones run by the government. Photo: AP Wide World Photos

“They will not hire them, because number one they’ve got to check the box (saying you were convicted of a crime), and number two, why should I hire you at $15 or $20 an hour when the guy that’s replacing you in that factory behind the prison fence we only have to pay him 35 cents an hour?” asked Mr. Sloan.

The big news for 2016 has been reform in the states, according to Molly Gill, director of federal legislative affairs for Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

Florida repealed a mandatory minimum 20 year sentence for aggravated assaults. In some cases, she said, people who’d fi red shots in self-defense were getting charged and sentenced 20 years even though no one was injured.

Maryland repealed all of its mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses earlier this year, and Iowa cut its mandatory minimum drug sentences in half and gave people parole eligibility halfway through their minimum term, Ms. Gill said.

“We’ve seen well over 30 states now that have reformed their mandatory sentencing laws in the last 10 years, and crime has continued to go down in these states, so sentencing reform has been a huge success at state level,” Ms. Gill said.

Part of that stems from strong bipartisan support in Congress, she said. She attributed some of the support to age rather than party lines. Some congressional members age 60-65 lean toward those laws and seem reluctant to reevaluate them, while younger ones, under 60, grew up in a very different world, she noted.

“They weren’t part of passing the mandatory minimums in the fi rst place … they’ve seen crime go down, … Also, frankly, probably a lot of them know people who have substance abuse problems and they’ve seen that these long drug sentences probably haven’t done much to stop the use of drugs,” Ms. Gill added.

Dorsey Nunn is with the All of Us or None Prison Advocacy Organization and executive director of the San Franciscobased Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. The objective of prison privatization is to make money, not to provide real security, he argued.

“When I look at private prisons, that’s one of those places where you could say clearly on the stock exchange, they’re selling and trading human bodies!… They’re trading Latinos and Black people on the Stock Exchange,” he said.

From the Final Call Newspaper

L. A. street organizations move forward in efforts for peace

BY CHARLENE MUHAMMAD -NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT- | LAST UPDATED: AUG 9, 2016 - 1:15:44 PM

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LOS ANGELES— Bloods and Crips are “bangin’” for peace after signing a treaty during a highly anticipated meeting at Muhammad Mosque No. 27 which is the Western Regional Headquarters of the Nation of Islam. 
Nearly everyone stood up when Tony Muhammad, Nation of Islam Western Region Student Minister asked how many had lost a loved one due to gang violence.  About the same number of people stood up when he asked who would join the effort of the 10,000 Fearless to help make their neighborhood a safe and decent place to live during the mid-July meeting.

Days later various organizations held their first follow-up meeting after the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan put out an historic call through student Min. Muhammad for the so-called gangs to unite and stop the violence.

The house was packed for the session hosted by student Min.  Muhammad.  It was heavily attended by gang intervention specialists, community activists, leaders, and concerned citizens looking for an end to violence and real change in their communities.

“I’m honored beyond words to see friends of mine, who I know, are front line soldiers, because we’ve got a deep, deep problem in our community, and it runs so deep, that it takes us back hundreds of years,” student Min. Muhammad said.
The meeting focused on solutions and came less than a week after more than 2,000 so-called gang members and peace keepers swelled the Scientology Community Center in South L.A. for the initial July 17 United Hoods plus Gangs Nation peace and unity summit.

On a large poster board depicting the 1995 Million Man March Pledge, members of the street organizations signed the “Bloods & Crips 2016 Peace Treaty, July 17th Cease Fire Agreement.”

“We’re dealing with the residual effects of a destroyed people … and we, both Black and Brown and Red have been beat down so far, that we have somewhat taken on the mind of those who dominated us, and now we are on remote control doing it to ourselves,” said student Min. Muhammad.  

Messages of peace, love, respect
The message of peace, love and respect was conveyed by speaker after speaker, who spoke with a sense of urgency to the audience during the initial July 17 meeting. 

Min. Muhammad said he called the Bloods and Crips on behalf of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.  He was honored, multiplatinum rappers The Game and Snoop Dogg stood with him, and that the people responded as indicated by the massive turnout, student Min. Muhammad said.  He also thanked the Church of Scientology for opening their doors to the Nation and the community for the critical community meetings.

The plan is to coordinate the best practices from everyone who has already been putting in work to solve the problem of violence in South Central, student Min. Muhammad said.  He urged everyone to work together in their lane for the overall goal.

“Yes!  Police have got to back up off of us, but, at the same time … ain’t no cameras around … when we’re looking at a bloody body,” he stated.

Indigenous community activists and organizers, including Alex Sanchez of the gang intervention effort Homies Unidos, have consistently worked in the streets helping the community.  They answered the call to come together and are participating because they also want to bridge the gap between Black and Brown communities.

“We felt welcomed!  We felt welcomed, and that’s the acknowledgement.  As soon as you acknowledge that human being, you’re acknowledging somebody of this earth as your brother, you’re sister. We’re all one,” Mr. Sanchez stated.
Carolyn Clark, founder of Sisters Working Against Gang Violence and a retired member of the Westside Rollin 20s said the role of women in the work is vital.

 “I think that the women need to be noticed more. They need to be on more of these panels.  They need to be out in the field more, and they need to be doing more,” said Ms. Clark. 

Messages of self-sustainability and availability of resources was a common theme expressed throughout the meeting.  The room was filled with hope and sparks of creativity as many excitedly discussed ways to improve not just the streets, but their homes, families, and the well-being of individuals.

Some ideas included community policing and education, recycling Black dollars, economic development, creating re-entry programs, developing job, education, and financial resource hubs, community gardening and urban farming and launching youth programs.

Be patient with each other, and shun money as a motive, Min. Muhammad encouraged.  “If that’s your motive, the government will sucker you into the money, and then control you, and give you just enough to fail,” he said.
Credit for the good works they were planning goes solely to God and the purpose is to unite, not create a new organization, student Min. Muhammad continued.

“Anything that will make a brother think about not killing his brother is what we’re after.”

Likewise for more than 100 men—many of them Crips and Bloods who marched peacefully to LAPD headquarters under the helm of  The Game’s organization H.U.N.T. (Hunt Us Not Today—Hate Us Not Today )on July 8.  They were flanked by the Fruit of Islam (F.O.I.) who are the male members of the Nation of Islam on their walk there.

The Game co-founded the group with several others, including Problem, a rapper and his best friend.

“My decision to walk down there with Snoop, who also didn’t want to walk—I had to damn near drag him out to walk down there—it was a decision made for your children, your children more than mine,” the platinum selling artist said.  His children do not face what he did or what the average child in South L.A. endures, he said during the summit.

Snoop said much of what happens is due to the need for communication when it comes to police engagement in Black communities.

“A lot of times when these situations go awry, there’s a miscommunication at some point.  It’s because police have not been used to being around these kind of people or this certain situation or what not,” Snoop told The Final Call.

It just so happens the men’s peaceful gathering outside LAPD headquaters occurred on the same day new recruits were graduating Game and Snoop pointed out.  “Today brings that situation to a forefront, to where these new recruits that are going to be hitting the streets will get a chance to meet all the people that they’re going to be running into,” Snoop said.
“They’re going to be able to see that we’re not villains and thugs.  We’re real humans just like they are and they gotta give us that respect and that dialogue before they pull their gun out,” Snoop added.

 “It’s not about Game.  It’s not really even about my children.  It’s about yours, and I love ‘em, and I’m out here with ‘em, and I was one of ‘em and I understand,” The Game said.

It takes years before legislation gets signed and laws get passed, he said. “It’s about what we gone do right now! Today,” he added, as he struck the podium with emphasis.

Min. Muhammad said it took courage to do what the two celebrities did.

The Game said he was a very affiliated gang member from Westside City Block Compton Piru, but in a different way.  Among other things, he uses his social media platform, which reaches millions of fans, for positive change.

Everyone wants to kill, he stated.  “But ask the same n——r  with the gun if he ready to die, and they’re going to say no.”  So if you ain’t ready to die and he ain’t ready to die, why you gonna shoot him homie?  He ain’t ready to die, and are you going to be ready to die when the gun is pointed at you?” he asked.

He continued saying he takes tutelage and wisdom from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.  “And I don’t have to be a Muslim to do that, and I am empowered.  I am empowered by the F.O.I. and Muslim community as the pastor of my church is Bishop Noel Jones, so I don’t have to make a decision to be with this person or that person.  I take wisdom from whoever gone speak it,” he said.

Next steps
H.U.N.T.’s next steps include weekly meetings with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and other top brass, and Mayor Eric Garcetti, both of whom attended the July 17 summit at Muhammad Mosque No. 27, according to Carlos McCullers, H.U.N.T. co-organizer.

Big Boy, popular radio host of Big Boy’s Neighborhood on 92.3 FM/REAL,  helped to promote the  July 17 peace summit.
“Right now, we all gotta be held accountable for everything we said up there, for showing up and saying we’re going to do our jobs,” Big Boy told The Final Call.

Student Minister Muhammad encouraged everyone to avoid envy and jealousy and become allies in working toward real change.

“Don’t expect the Nation (Of Islam) to do it the way you do it, but we’re going to come hard!  Don’t expect the Black Panther to be like the Nation of Islam or the church to be like the Black Panther or the Blood to be like the Crip, or Game gotta be like Snoop or Snoop gotta be like Game, or Big Boy gotta be like somebody else,” he said.

Black and Indigenous, male and some female, gang members and those affected at their hands flooded the three entrances, and stood in long lines to get inside the initial July 17 meeting. 

A cafe and lobby were transformed into two overflow rooms, and outside on the street in front of the center, people listened and watched via loud speakers on a jumbo screen. 

The hallways and aisles were packed as people leaned over upper level balconies, while others sat on the floor.  The facility was filled over capacity, with celebrity hip-hop artist will.i.am among attendees.

Gang members and interventionists spoke from the heart about the need for peace and hope in the new efforts toward unity.

Ansar Muhammad, a co-founder of the H.E.L.P.E.R. Foundation gang intervention and prevention organization, feels the efforts are a step in the right direction.

“The next phase is community grassroots organizing efforts around the violence and each neighborhood representative that has an influence in the community must go back and organize block by block in a community affected by violence,” he stated.

Tino Torres, a 10-year gang interventionist from East L.A., said Black and Brown unity should be obvious by now.  He shared how he is pained over the brutal beating deaths of two young girls, and electrified the audience when he challenged Europeans colonization, theft and murders of  his people.  Blacks who were enslaved could relate, Mr. Torres said.

“Each of us is so valuable that we need to stay alive. We need to build the peace with each other, Brown on Brown, Black on Black, Black with Brown … because I’m tired of contributing to an $80 billion industry, prison complex to lock us up,” he said.

Rapper West Coast Kam, also a Muslim, commended everyone’s efforts and said the work is in the streets.  “Charity and love start at home first,” he said before bringing up some interventionists and rappers, including Jerome Muhammad, a.k.a., Shorty from Da Lynch Mob.

“We started the first half of our lives probably doing the devil’s work, but as long as God gives us the energy to do something about it, we doing the positive thing,” Kam said.

“This isn’t something that just happened in a vacuum.  The work has been done over the years,” said Min. Muhammad.
The 2016 gang truce comes in the midst of his work to galvanize peace throughout the streets of L.A., including monthly Southern California Peace Rides.  The Peace Rides, which include groups and clubs who ride motorcycles, low riders, mini bikes and drive Corvettes, are coordinated in conjunction with the Southern California Cease Fire Committee and a host of organizations, activists and artists and culminates in a park rally for peace called UPFest.

Minister Farrakhan has been consistent at this, Big Boy said.  “He’s never wavered from this.  He’s never wavered from us.  I’ve never heard that man (say), “Aw, that’s you all’s problem … He has always been in place … the same person since the first time I heard that man’s name.”

“I thought today was absolutely beautiful.  This was needed on a daily basis,” said Carlos McCullers II who attended the summit. “It’s genius!  It’s something that I’m sure has been going on and working diligently for years, but it starts grassroots.” 

(Mecca Islam contributed to this report.)