By D.L. Chandler
Amid the gripping news of escalating gun violence in New York City, pioneering hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and formerly incarcerated Brooklyn rapper Maino took to the streets with local community leader Erica Ford on Wednesday (January 19) for the second annual Peace Week rally.
“People are murdering each other without any recourse,” Simmons said. “So we need to get in our communities and work from the inside out."
Gathering on the steps of New York’s City Hall, Simmons and Maino spoke to a gathering of concerned citizens, elected officials, media and the families of the victims of the city's deadly crime spike. Joining forces with Ms. Ford, who organized the rally in tandem with her I Love My Life and Life Camp non-profit organizations, Simmons’ commanding and urgent pleas to the crowd were direct and resonant.
"We cannot do it alone, we need support," Simmons added. "We need financial support and we need a new strategy.”
Maino’s checkered legal past and publicized tussles with other rappers — such as the incident with Yung Berg — may have led some to scratch their heads at his inclusion as a speaker for the rally. Yet the rapper spoke honestly about his past and reminded the throng of onlookers that the violence has taken a large toll on the fabric of the community.
“I personally come from the same community and the same violence,“ Maino shared. “I have the responsibility to be truthful to the street. Everybody talks about keeping it real well this is a part of keeping it real. I know what it is to be a part of gun violence.”
Erica Ford has a longstanding connection with hip-hop and organizing. Ms. Ford's I Love My Life and Life Camp non-profits have shared duties alongside noted activist the Rev. Al Sharpton and she's also worked with MCs Ja Rule, KRS-One and the late Tupac Shakur.
How do you think the hip-hop community can work against gun violence? Tweet us at @MTVRapFix or tell us in a comment below!