Gangs Vow to End Violence

Little Rock Gangs Vow to End Violence - Story | ArkansasMatters.com                

By: SHANNON MILLER                                                                                          

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.-- "If we can just be as one, we can just clear everything out," gang member Harold Adrow said.

It's the first step for Little Rock gang members like Adrow, to clear a cloud of violence that's hovered over Little Rock for years.

"Looking at the young generation, its getting crazier everyday so I feel like if I can just reach one I feel like I did my job," Adrow said.

Adrow and Keshawn Kelly are just two members of the Bloods set to come together Saturday in a rare but hopeful attempt to ease tensions between gangs.

"We're just giving back to the community to keep the violence down in here and keep the peace," Kelly said.

"We're trying to get all of these guys together so we could build on a foundation," gang member Max Thornton said.

Thornton says the bloodlines run deep but the violence doesn't have to.

"You have guys in sagging jeans and bandanas and vendettas," Thornton said.

"I want more than anything in the world to just break this cycle of violence," William Graves, with the City of Little Rock Community Programs said.

Graves has helped mediate between rival groups and hopes to build on the momentum of the more than a month of Little Rock not seeing any gang-related violence. 

Graves also hopes the city can serve as a place to show others they too can put an end to violent crimes.

"If Little Rock stops then everybody else is going to follow suit," Graves said. 

The community event is set for Saturday, June 24 at 3:00 p.m. at Franklin Elementary School.

It will include free car washes, haircuts and food along with a rap, singing and dance contest as well as checkers, chess and dominoes competition.

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola has issued a statement in advance of the event this Saturday:

"Over the last several weeks we have been working with former gang members and ex felons who have offered to come forward and help the city and our police department stem the recent rash of violence that certain areas of the city have been experiencing. 

The event Saturday is the result of a lot of dialogue and communication from people who have been in trouble before who are trying to convince our youth that there is a better way to solve disagreements than through violence. 

I am very hopeful the event will be a success and will set an example for other young people in the community. I will be attending and discussing with those involved how we can give them more opportunities to be gainfully employed and become productive members of the community."

Ritch Cassidy

Ritch Cassidy

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