By Edward Henderson
(Photos by Mike Norris)
In recent years, social media has taught us that the residue of police and community violence is not exclusive to one area of the country. While the volume of these incidents vary from state to state, the core factors that create these issues are the same everywhere. Community organizations are beginning to notice this trend and are starting to unify and offer solutions.
On Saturday, October 22nd, ‘Stop the Violence’, a Chicago based organization, joined forces with ‘Stop the Genocide’ of San Diego to host a meet and greet potluck at Marie Widman Park. The free event served as a celebration of the collaboration between these organizations and their plans to uplift youth in both cities.
Stop the Violence was created by George ‘Jody’ Bady, a Chicago native and former high ranking corner hustler. At the height of his operation, he was bringing in $20,000 to $30,000 on a slow day. Everything came tumbling down after catching a federal case that threatened to send him to prison for 60 years. Bady was able to beat the case and he knew his life wouldn’t be the same afterwards.
“After I beat the case, I asked God what he wanted me to do and I’ve been running Stop the Violence ever since then,” said Bady.
Having lost two sons and a nephew to gun violence, Bady started his organization to try and prevent this from happening to anyone else.
“We go out on the street corner, take it over and we promote peace. We have resources out there as far as getting them back into school, feeding the homeless, and we try to stop things before the escalate. We feed 300-500 people every week without any type of government funding.”
Bady’s organization is composed of former gang members under the belief that ‘in order to take the streets, you have to come from the streets’. Stop the Violence Vice-President Rodney Wilson was also a former drug dealer and spent 19 years in prison on a murder charge.
“I took someone’s life and hurt a whole family and community,” said Wilson. “I dedicated my life to giving back and stopping that cycle because we’re only hurting people who look like us.”
Travis Stocking of Stop the Genocide made the connection with Stop the Violence during the Chicago stop of their cross country trip with teens from San Diego.
“It was a match made in heaven,” said Stocking. “We went on the streets of the west side to talk to the youngsters and do demonstrations of boxing. I also had my fitness vest, showed what that can do, and people took to it. They wanted us to come back to Chicago and set up a gym there. That’s what we’re doing.”
In the future, the two organizations plan to set up camps in their respective cities where youth can come exercise, learn and make peace with themselves in an environment that is new to them.
“We’re trying to do a movement from San Diego to Chicago,” said Bady. “When Travis came down, we came back to show some love and share some ideas of what we’re trying to do.”
Stocking plans to use funds from his fitness vest to help construct the camp on land donated to him in the Rancho San Diego area.
“We call it the ‘New Improved Village that will never be torn Down’ or Chi-Diego for short,” joked Stocking.