Entrepreneur and social activist Russell Simmons was recently in Chicago to lend his voice to the campaign for heightened use of non-violent mediation methods, which community organizations say can help stem the violence in the cities such as Chicago, which has seen 450 gun-related homicides so far this year.
Simmons was joined by Dennis Muhammad of the Peacekeepers Global Initiative, an organization that trains volunteers on such activities as CPR, first aid, self-defense and mediation in communities heavily impacted by crime and violence, on the South Side at Larry’s Barber College.
The event was held to recruit potential peacekeepers to volunteer with the organization. As would be the case in a barbershop, there were serious discussions, including remarks on how individuals can settle their differences without violence.
“I think it’s very important to get people involved in watching each other’s children and also keeping an eye on and supporting, really supporting, law enforcement,” Simmons told the Chicago Tribune interview before the recruiting event.
The peacekeeping event was part of RushCard’s Keep the Peach initiative, which aims to reduce youth violence. RushCard, which Simmons co-founded, also provided the Peacekeepers Global Initiative with a $50,000 grant to support its efforts. The RushCard Initiative has also provided grants for peacekeeping organizations in Atlanta and Los Angeles, in addition to holding events in New York and Cincinnati.
At the Chicago event, Simmons was joined by NBA Legend Charles Oakley, who played with the Chicago Bulls from 1985-1988, and Father Michael Pfleger, who has been a prominent social activist on Chicago’s South Side since the 1970s.
Simmons’ Chicago visit also featured stops to several Chicago high schools, where he promoted the power of mediation, which he says can help the students reduce toxic stress. The goal is to help young people resort to non-violence tactics when faced with conflict.
Simmons’ highs school visit was brought on by the Quiet Time transcendental meditation program, which is run by the David Lynch Foundation and studied by the University of Chicago Urban Labs.
Photos courtesy of Rolling Out