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Growing up my friends and I would travel downtown from Brampton to goto all ages parties. They were amazing and fun nights but we saw a lot of violence. Every weekend someone was getting injured or killed. It didn’t feel like anyone cared. No news stories about the violence. No community activists protested for us. We felt completely ignored and alone. That was then. I want the youth to know that there are people who truly care about their well being and their future. Today @tajtheblacklion organized a meeting with @kardinalo myself and @johntory the Mayor of Toronto to discuss the violence that is affecting our city. The Mayor has been speaking to other members of the hip hop community in the city who are all very concerned that the youth have a real chance at living a good life. We discussed solutions both long term and short term. I’d like to hear what you all have to say. What can we do?
Here’s what is happening in Toronto, and how they want to end it
On June 30, 21-year old Jahvante Smart, and 28-year old Ernest Modekwe were killed in a shooting outside Cube Nightclub on Queen Street West. Smart, a popular rapper known as Smoke Dawg, opened for Drake last year. Ernest was also in the local Hip Hop scene as a music brand manager. They were among the 11 people that were shot over a one-week span beginning on June 29. One of the shootings saw four people injured in Toronto’s Kensington Market neighbourhood. One of them died in the hospital.
“This is about a need for leadership to increase, this is about many things — but this is not about a correlation between rap and violence. Not today. No thanks,” Toronto rapper, Kardinal Offishall wrote in a July 1 post on Instagram.
Kardinal is very positive on the first meeting with Tory.
“Sometimes we look at our officials and politicians as being out of touch with marginalized communities, but I will say that he is very much aware of the large task that is at hand and was very receptive to a lot of our ideas that were put forth,” he posted.
“Having lived in various neighbourhoods across the city, we were able to speak to him from the perspective of being residents but also as people of influence who wish to use our platforms to elevate the city and subsequently the country.”
Toronto, there’s no one solution
Offishall says there’s no one solution to the problem happening in Toronto. There’s an “importance of an empathetic outlook” towards the community that brings people together, rather than isolate them.
Before Tory’s meeting with the hip hop trio, he had met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. They covered various issues, including gun violence. He said all three levels of government must work together to address gun crime.
“While we know this is a complex problem and there is no single, quick fix, I know that the prime minister is as committed to finding solutions and keeping people safe as I am and as are the women and men of the Toronto Police Service,” the mayor said in a statement. “The Prime Minister pledged in our meeting to doing everything possible to get federal funding to our city as quickly as possible to help us increase our efforts to stop gun and gang violence.”
Meanwhile, Kardinal hopes Friday was just the first of several meetings with Tory.
“I am no social worker, professional educator or any of these amazing people that spend countless hours, days and years elevating our neighbourhoods — but I’m somebody ‘from the area’ who has deep roots in the community and who cares,” he added, encouraging others to continue to make suggestions and share their own experiences in Toronto.
In 1987, hip hop pioneers KRS-One and Public Enemy formed the Stop the Violence Movement. They were reaching out to the hip hop community to end violence happening in their neighbourhoods. The movement was further inspired on the heels of the death of KRS-One’s bandmate and founding member of Boogie Down Productions, Scott La Rock. KRS-One brought many East Coast hip hop artists together to record a song about anti-violence. All proceeds went to the National Urban League. Along with the release came Overcoming Self-Destruction—the Making of the Self-Destruction Video VHS tape. “Self Destruction” debuted at #1 on the first week of Billboard’s Hot Rap Songs. It held the spot for five consecutive weeks.
Editors note: This might be another idea Kardinal and company would want to bring to the table on their next meeting with Tory.