I have an op-ed piece in today's Times-Picayune, regarding the need to for people to continue contributing to the community and the fight against violent crime. I also question some of our leaders and their inability to respond, even after having thousands of people march to their door. You can read the piece here. But I really wanted to take this opportunity to update people regarding SilenceisViolence.org, the organization that has sprung out of the group of us that initiated the march. Currently, our website is pretty static (we're looking for a web person), but we'll be sending out a weekly email that offers some initiatives that people can get involved in. The first of these is below. To subscribe, email SpeakUp@silenceisviolence.org.
January 18, 2007
It has been one week since the March For Survival to City Hall, and we continue to receive calls and emails of support and offers of help—Thank you for the will you have shown to speak out against violence and to take action in whatever ways you can!
Today we are announcing two specific actions on the part of Silence Is Violence, and we invite you all to participate as we press forward. We will be writing with announcements each Thursday. If you know of anyone who would like to receive these weekly emails, please send us their address at SpeakUp@silenceisviolence.org. (Remember that there is free internet access at your local library.) If you would like to be removed from this list, please email us at the same address to let us know.
Initiatives for January 18:
1. Program for peace and productivity in our schools:
We have designed a school program that combines anti-violence discussions with workshops lead by positive role models in the arts. We will sponsor and arrange visits to two schools per month. During these visits, we will meet with civics classes or student assemblies to discuss the problem of violent crime in New Orleans. High school students have contributed some of the most passionate responses to our anti-violence campaign; many have offered us their perspectives and ideas regarding violence in our city. Our discussions, therefore, will include listening to the first-hand experiences and ideas of students; educating students on the problem of violence and its ramifications; and coaching students to make positive and non-violent decisions in their own lives. Workshops with local authors, visual artists, and musicians will balance these discussions and provide concrete alternatives to violence, offering the arts as a positive arena for personal expression and presenting successful local artists as role models.
Each school visit under the Program for peace and productivity will last about three hours. We will initiate the program by incorporating an anti-violence discussion into the visits of the Hot 8 Brass Band to Rabouin High School, which are already underway. If your high school would like to arrange a visit under this program, please contact us and we will schedule one. If you are an artist and would like to serve as a role model for this program, please contact us.
2. Keep up the pressure:
Sadly, violence continues to plague our streets. Many of our City Council members marched with us last Thursday, stood and listened to us during the rally, and voiced their support for our efforts. Yet our leadership has been disappointingly quiet as the killing has persisted over the past several days.
As the organizers of Silence Is Violence, we have written to our City Council members to ask that they maintain a strong presence and a strong voice on the subject of violent crime, and that they take an active and open role in combatting the violence. When you receive this email, please join us by calling your councilperson and personally asking him or her to step forward and address this urgent and tragic problem.
***Council members contacts have been edited from this letter for publication here. If you need them, let me know.***
Remember to check our website, www.silenceisviolence.org, for further information and updates. We have added a dedication to the victims of violent crime; please send your thoughts or photos so we can add them to a memorial page.
With warm thanks for your support as the march continues,
Ken, Helen, and Baty