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Louisville activists launch anti-violence initiative with ‘positive’ hip hop focus

The effort will target young people, interested in rap and spoken word as part of a diversion program with LMPD.
Updated: May. 30, 2021 at 12:42 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - At a first-of-its-kind hip hop festival, local activists launched an anti-violence initiative focused on curbing the city’s climbing homicide rate through the power of positive music.

The organization Arts & Activism hosted its inaugural ‘Love All Serve All In Unity Positive Hip Hop Music Festival’ on Saturday.

The event, sponsored in part by Signature Health and The Kentucky Alliance Against Racist And Political Oppression, featured multiple vendors, a job fair and more than 20 musical performances. Jibriyll Izsrael, the organization’s founder, also announced a new effort to combat violent crime called the West Louisville Anti-Violence Initiative.

“I’ve seen it [positive hip hop music] help youth to turn away from the path of violence and self-destruction and turn into vessels of hope for their community,” he said. “We’re seeing all this havoc, the youth don’t want to listen to us, so we feel it imperative to get out here and figure out some way to sway the momentum and change the tide.”

In May, at least 17 homicides have been reported in Louisville - another 52 people were shot and survived this month. So far, more than 70 people have died from gun violence in 2021, roughly double the number Louisville saw at the same time last year. In 2020, Louisville saw record-breaking gun violence with more than 170 criminal homicides.

Izsrael told WAVE 3 his new initiative would target young people in West Louisville, teaching them how to write their own spoken word poetry and rap songs as part of a diversion program with the Louisville Metro Police Department.

“So we use creative writing to get them to a lot of introspection, self-work and get to using their voice to save the community,” he said. “Let’s get them in the studio, we’ll give them the ingredients they need to start to believe I can be what I’ve dreamed of being.”

The initiative, a partnership with the city’s One Love Louisville campaign and Parkland Boys Club, will also offer mentorship each week on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at the Schooler Prep Academy starting June 12. The initiative will also host gatherings with program members on weekends, and utilize the Parkland Boys Club sports league and recording studio.

On Saturday, Ravon Churchill with the Office for Safe and Healthy neighborhoods called on city leaders to help fund the initiative.

“If we wanted this initiative to work, we need to put the money into it so it can be funded, so Metro Council I’m looking right at you,” he said. “I’m asking you Metro Council, whatever district that you’re in please help us so that this city can be safer.”

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