Stop The Killings Celebration
Cease Fire ...Don't Smoke The Brothers and Sisters, Inc. is gearing up for its 7th Annual Six Months Moratorium to Stop the Killings Cookout/Amateur Boxing Match in association with Universal Madness. As in the past, it will be held simultaneously with the 7th annual 450 Back-to-School Backpack Giveaway. This year's community event will be held on Saturday, August 30, 2014. The story and pictures below are from last year's event.
A Day of Peace: Stop The Killings
By Charlotte A. Williams
Washington, D.C. – On the last Saturday in August, an estimated crowd of five thousand poured into Upshur Recreation Park over staggered hours for Cease Fire … Don’t Smoke The Brothers and Sisters, Inc.’s 6th Annual Six Months Moratorium to Stop the Killings Cookout/Amateur Boxing Match and the 6th Annual Back-to-School Backpack Giveaway, held in association with Universal Madness. The free community event on this bright, sunshiny day brought people out on foot; by car; bus; and bicycle. Some participants were even seen moving about the park in wheelchairs as they made their way from one activity to the next. They were young and old; black, white, Latino and Asian.
Al-Malik Farrakhan, founder/executive director of Cease Fire… Don't Smoke The Brothers and Sisters, Inc. reminded the large gathering of the significance of the celebration and informed everyone that in keeping with past celebrations, the six months moratorium against black on black killings was being re-imposed for the next six months. Afterward, to the delight of the crowd, Farrakhan broke out in a rap of his own on the perils of street life and the cruel realities of prison life. He says the moratorium was started in remembrance of the following deceased members of Cease Fire … Don'ts Smoke The Brothers and Sisters: William “Worms” Patterson, Eduardo B. Van, Stanley Cooper, Joe Young and Leroy Thompson (Toe Toe).
“Coming together like this teaches that we can come together in peace and love instead of conflict and war,” says Farrakhan. He says he wants that message to reach gang members and at-risk youth.
Several speakers denounced violence. At Cease Fire… Don't Smoke The Brothers and Sisters' events, it is common to see gang members and at-risk youth waiting hand and foot on senior citizens. Several males in their late teens were seen numerous times braving the oppressive heat to make their way over to tables where senior citizens sat to take their food, snack, dessert and beverage orders. Reflecting on youth waiting on her, Diane Thompson of Washington, D.C., says, “They did a wonderful job; they were very respectful.” Seated at the table with her was 64-year-old Diane Jones. When asked for her take on being waited on, Jones replied, “Marvelous.” Thompson interjected, “I thought it was thoughtful; this service was very, very coordinated.” Jones agreed and added, “This was a very, very lovely event; I enjoyed it.” While Thompson found out about the annual community event from a flyer, Jones says she heard about it from a friend.
Cease Fire … Don't Smoke The Brothers and Sisters’ member, Gary Barnes, was responsible for coordinating and supervising the youth under court supervision who performed community service that day. Barnes says he gave them a quick lesson on social skills and then put them to work. A former D. C. public school teacher, Barnes had previous experience working with youth. And judging from Jones and Thompson’s compliments on the service they received, Barnes did a very good job with the youth The teens waited on everyone, not just senior citizens. Barnes says they also helped set up the tables and performed other duties as assigned. While those teens were there to carry out their community service, other people came out to support the non-violent celebration for different reasons.
Several people interviewed gave various reasons for coming out to embrace peace and love, the moratorium on stopping the killing’s theme. Joseph Lezama who brought his 11 and 12 year-old boys says he’s lived in the neighborhood surrounding Upshur Recreation Park for over 30 years and believes in doing whatever he can to help better his Sixteenth Street Heights community. Lezama says safety is a major concern for him. He then fondly recalled a time when his young sons were attending Brightwood Education Campus School in Washington’s northwest Brightwood community. That is when he says his boys began stopping by Cease Fire … Don't Smoke Brothers and Sisters' community center for the after-school program. According to Lezama, his children, who he says never went hungry, ate regular dinners there. Chuckling, Lezama says, “Mr. Farrakhan refused to let my children leave without giving them a meal, despite them saying they weren’t hungry.”
Artist/Fashion Designer Cindy Williams came out. She says she supports Cease Fire’s mission and the six months moratorium. Williams says, “I feel a connection to the organization because my late son used to enjoy stopping by the [Cease Fire … Don't Smoke The Brothers and Sisters] community center.” And then there was 43-year-old Marcus Jackson who brought his 10 year old daughter, Carmani. He says he grew up in Cease Fire… Don't Smoke The Brothers and Sisters and credits Farrakhan with helping him get through a very dark period in his life that included a prison stint at a very young age. He says he now owns his own business and gives much credit to Farrakhan. Dina Howard says she was riding by on a bus with her two children and a niece when she saw all the people in the park and heard the jumping music going. She says, “I quickly got off the bus.”
Makeup artist L. Cherene, (of Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Pa. and Harrisburg, Pa.) also says she believes in the organization's mission. She told this writer that she felt the event was important enough for her to travel from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to apply face/body paint on over 50 giggly, anxious children before heading off to Myrtle Beach, S.C. for a mini vacation. Face painter Monet Wright and her assistant, Mahua Bose, traveled from Ft. Washington, Maryland and Columbia, Maryland, respectively. In a reference to Farrakhan, 25-year-old Leonard Cooper says: “I had to come to support my Pops; yeah, I call him my Pops.”
The celebration that Farrakhan says began as a call to the black community now attracts people of various races. However, he says what hasn’t changed is the mix of people from different walks of life who attend the annual reflection on stopping black genocide. This writer saw members from the clergy and business communities. Also present were politicians; radio personalities; sports figures; local entertainers; senior citizens; the middle-aged, adolescents; ex-prisoners, ex-gang members, current gang members and at-risk youth, all intermingling. Mikera Tymas, a 15- year- old student at Capital City Charter School in Washington, D.C., says she came out to watch her12-year-old brother Michael, box. People moved about the park eating, chatting with friends, meeting new friends and dancing to music with rhythmic beats from live bands that could be heard from blocks away.
Farrakhan says an unforeseeable circumstance derailed the highly touted go-go performance with Jett Black D.C. and go-go legend, “Sugar Bear” of E.U. (Experience Unlimited Band) performing together. He says, “It would have been a historical first in Washington’s go-go world.” But not to be disappointed, Eminence Band had the park rockin’ with a profusion of regular energetic beats that reverberated throughout the park. The perfect blend of vocals complimented the band. During their set, park goers stayed on their feet, including this writer. Howard may not have been the only person who hurriedly got off a bus to join in on the go-go madness and happy, peaceful atmosphere that promoted non violence.
This writer noticed many motorists slowing w-a-a-y down to gawk. Who knows, some may have parked their cars to join in. The Wisdom Speaks Band followed Eminence. They put down some real foot stompin’ go-go beats and awesome singing of their own. As if programmed to move at the sound of a beat, those like Cease Fire … Don't Smoke The Brothers and Sisters' member Jenifer Golson who had sat down to catch a breath after Eminence played, soon found themselves jumping right up out of their seats when Wisdom Speaks took to the stage and produced a thrusting, pounding rhythmic beat with strong vocals to rock it. It should be noted that each band had vocalists who belted out lyrics that denounced violence. Well, it appeared like all that dancing worked up an appetite for many.
The aroma of chicken, beef hot dogs and hamburgers that waft through the air from large smokers found many people patiently waiting in a long food line that no one seemed to mind. They laughed and chatted among themselves, talked on cell phones and some even played with hand-held games. Eddie Vann and Tyrone Johnson, founders/creators of Universal Madness, had a well organized food assembly line composed of members from Universal Madness, Cease Fire … Don't Smoke The Brothers and Sisters and people from the neighboring community.
"The Georgia Avenue Clean-Up Crew has volunteered every year to serve food and perform other duties at this event in addition to other neighborhood volunteers,” says Farrakhan. Chef Rick Johnson, brother of Tyrone Johnson, prepared and cooked all the food. Included with the meats were veggie beans, potato salad and macaroni and cheese salad. Attendees also had their choice of snacks, cold, non-alcoholic beverages and desserts. Ah, but this large celebration had more to offer than just laughing with friends, meeting new people, and eating and dancing the day away.
A big highlight was the awards ceremony. There were two categories, Community Service Award and Peacemakers Award. The following members from the district’s business community received a Community Service award: Jeffrey A. Banks, managing director at the Bank of Georgetown; Kamal Ali, co-owner, Ben’s Chili Bowl, Ben’s Next Door and BCB Properties, LLC and B. Doyle Mitchell Jr., president/chief executive officer, Industrial Bank. Each received a beautiful plaque and was thanked for his many years of committed community support, from teaching financial literacy to at-risk youth to feeding homeless children to giving monetary support to needy grassroots organizations.
Jeffrey Banks shows award
Farrakhan(l) and Ali (r)
Farrakhan (l) and B. Doyle Mitchell Jr.
The following members of Cease Fire… Don't Smoke The Brothers and Sisters received a Peacemakers award: Douglas Dormu, Jeffery Dormu, Mark Tapp and Lamont “Man” Roseboro. The awards were for putting their lives on the line whenever they go out to a major hot spot to mediate disputes or appeal for an immediate cease fire and peace. The organization became widely known in the 90s for brokering truces among warring gangs, quelling smoldering drug turf wars and quashing neighborhood beefs, something they’ve never stopped doing. Yes, over the years and up through 2013, they remain to be a strong influence in the fight against violence and black genocide. After the ceremony, people spread out to visit different information tables.
Farrakhan( l) and Doug Dormu (r)
Lamont "Man" Roseboro
(Missing photos unavailable)
Several people ambled over to Cease Fire … Don't Smoke The Brothers and Sisters' voter registration table to inquire about voting or to fill out voter registration forms. And some stopped by Trusted Health Plan’s table where they received information and literature and a complimentary backpack. Marketing Director Anthony Parks sent 150 backpacks that were distributed by his company's representatives. The Office of the Mayor of Washington, D C. sponsored Cease Fire … Don't Smoke The Brothers and Sisters' 6th Annual 450 Back-to-School Backpack Giveaway. Members of the organization distributed them. The backpacks were delivered to the community center by Ward 4 Community Liaison Keith Holman, D.C. Office of Community Engagement. All one had to do was ask for one if he or she had a child enrolled in a D.C. public school. In addition to those backpacks, Cease Fire... Don't Smoke The Brothers and Sisters had purchased 450 backpacks with donated money, making the backpack total giveaway 1,050.
A hotbed of activity swarmed around Nina Albert’s table, director of community affairs at Walmart. There was plenty of information to pass out including job applications. Walmart was reportedly the event’s biggest sponsor.
Nina Albert (r)
Francine Smith with the American Diabetes Association passed out literature at her table. And parked on the street was Unity Health Care organization’s large white mobile testing-lab with its recognizable golden brown logo and large black letters that spell out “Unity Health Care.”
Photo courtesy of Unity Health Care
The nurse on board offered on-the-spot medical screenings for high blood pressure, diabetes and HIV-AIDS. This writer volunteered for all three screenings. There was a no wait time for high blood pressure results. Results for diabetes and HIV-AIDS had a wait time of 15-20 minutes, respectively. But wait is what the large crowd did for the main event of the day.
Fight Time! 25 Amateur Bouts
Farrakhan offers that the main draw for the annual six months moratorium to stop the killing celebration is amateur boxing and pointed to the large crowd seated around the ring. Hours before the fights got underway, hundreds had already positioned lawn chairs they’d toted with them to the park to get as close as allowed to the large regulation-sized boxing ring. The D.C Boxing Commission provided the boxing ring and the ambulance that was stationed at the event, says Farrakhan. A boxing enthusiast, Farrakhan says, “Brother Umar [founder/executive director of Umar Sports and Learning Center] outdid himself this year by putting on a 25-bout show; this is a first!” Continuing, “It is one of the best amateur fight cards ever put on in Washington, D. C.”
According to Umar, 20 of the 80-pound juniors who fought came from boxing clubs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to face off with the amateur boxers representing boxing clubs in the District, Maryland and Virginia. All seemed prepared to fight in the showdown that began in daylight and ended in the twilight.
Contenders left their corners looking confident. They began smokin’ after the sound of the bell. The seated and standing crowd watched intently and cheered wildly when fighters began scoring point for point. 18-year-old Demetrius Lewis from the No – Xcuse Gym defeated his opponent from the Diamond-in-the Rough Gym, both local fight clubs. The main event featured well-known and respected champion Shalar Nelson from Brooklyn, New York's Zab Judah’s Club. Nelson fought Washington, D. C.'s Champion Stacy Selby. The decision was awarded to current Golden Gloves and Silver Gloves as well as Jr. Olympic Champion - Selby. Umar says the boxers who traveled to D.C. represented five different boxing clubs. All fighters were awarded either a championship trophy or a belt for second place. The distinctive ring announcer’s voice belonged to Cease Fire… Don't Smoke The Brothers and Sisters' member, Johnnie Lucky Fox.
Large crowd gathers for boxing event
Photo by Tyshan Al-Malik
Another successful Six Months Moratorium on Stopping The Killing Cookout/Amateur Boxing Match in association with Universal Madness was nearing an end without incident, not to mention that Cease Fire … Don't Smoke The Brothers and Sisters has a reputation for never requesting police presence at their large assemblies and that they have never had one incident of violence since they began operating in ‘95. When asked about that, Farrakhan says, “We police our own; we have our own peace squad. “An onlooker shouted, “They’ve been around for years and have helped a lot of people. They do a lot of good stuff for the community but yet they can’t get grants to operate their programs!” It was now time to prepare for clean up. Farrakhan thanked the D.C. Department of Public Works (DPW) and Nevelion Williams, who spearheaded the clean-up after the event. Volunteers, The Georgia Avenue Crew and members of Cease Fire … Don't Smoke the Brothers and Sisters assisted. Feeling intoxicated off of the peace and love that floated through the atmosphere, several attendees volunteered for cleanup after heeding a clarion call for more help.
This writer was told that the following contributed in some way to make this annual community event a rousing success: The Washington Informer newspaper; radio personalities: “Mo Betta Man,” Mo Betta Man Radio Show, Yango Sawyer, host of Yango Sawyer's radio show spotlight on the Mo Betta Man Radio Show, Cornel Jones of Hanging With The Joneses Radio Show, all can be heard on WOL radio station 1450 AM; and on the internet, www.woldcnews.com, and Ward 4 liaison Valencia Beck, with the D.C. Office of Community Engagement. This was Beck's second year in a row volunteering. She told this writer, “I came last year. I am volunteering again because it’s so peaceful; it’s such a peaceful event.” Continuing, “You can’t find a large gathering where hundreds and hundreds of people come together from different parts of D.C. and there not be one single incident of violence. No one argued over turf or anything else; and I don’t care if the group is black, white, red or blue, it’s just unheard of. You could just sense the peace and love among the crowd. This is the type of crowd I like and don’t mind volunteering for.” So impressed, Beck says she arrived at Upshur Park at 7 a.m. to help stack serving tables with beverages and snacks and to later serve on the food line.
Farrakhan thanked the man who he says masterminded the 450 backpacks for the Back-to-School Backpack Giveaway this year, Stephen Glaude, director of the D.C. Office of Community Affairs for the Office of the Mayor. Farrakhan told this writer that he cannot say enough about Upshur Recreation Park’s Site Lead Deyanne Nicholas. He says, “Mrs. Deyanne Nicholas cleans Upshur Park before the event and later waits on people in the food line, all without asking.” He added, “I cannot thank her enough; she has participated all six years.”
According to Farrakhan, despite a conflict over attending a family function and having no one on her staff to cover the Cease Fire ... Don't Smoke The Brother's and Sisters' celebration, as is policy for any park event, “Mrs. Nicholas still spent over half the day with us.” He then thanked Allen Bey, who works at Hamilton Recreation Center for using his day off to replace Nicholas so she could attend the remainder of her family’s event without having to cut short the hours of the Six Months Moratorium on Stopping the Killing celebration.
And while Farrakhan acknowledged the contributions of the above named people with this writer, he could be heard giving periodic shout outs over a powerful microphone to the event's sponsors: Bank of Georgetown, Ben's Chili Bowl, Ben's Next Door, Canada Dry, Coca cola, Costco, Edward Ross, Fitzgerald Wheaton Dodge; George Sydnor; Wheaton Dodge; Industrial Bank, Skinner Leadership Institute, Trusted Health Plan, Walmart, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, D. C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson and Council members Anita Bonds, Muriel Bowser, Jack Evans, Jim Graham and Vincent B. Orange (At- Large).
Farrakhan also publicly acknowledged the presence of the local personalities and movers and shakers who came out. As people were leaving the park, this writer overheard some saying, “This was so much fun; I can’t wait til next year’s [celebration].”
Food line Photo Cease Fire... Don't Smoke The Brothers and Sisters
… Don’t Smoke The Brothers and Sisters, Inc. measures the success of the
annual six months moratorium to stop the killings on the beefs they successfully
quash in those six months and on police crime data on killings in Washington,
D.C. The annual celebration began in August 2007 after the organization put
word out on the street that the out of control black on black killings had to
stop. Many of Cease Fire’s members are ex-prisoners and former gang
leaders who have a pulse on how to relate to gang members, at-risk youth and ex-prisoners. They felt
something had to be done about the killings (genocide).
The table below indicates measured success after ’08. Farrakhan says,
“We mapped out a strategy, one of which was going out to the major hot spots to
broker truces.” Adding, “We know our organization had a big hand in
the all-time dramatic drop in killings in the District of
*According to District Crime Data at a Glance records, “The citywide
2013 homicide statistics include the 12 victims of the Washington Navy Yard
shooting incident that occurred on September
D.C. is currently experiencing an uptick in killings at a time when the
organization has had to scale back on their programs, services and
operations. According to the same data source, as of June 20, 2014, there have
been 52 killings compared to 35 during the same time last year, a 48.6 percent
jump, so you see the need.
Cease Fire … Don’t Smoke the Brothers and Sisters,
Inc. is in dire need of monetary donations to continue their year-round
programs (educational, life-skills, recreational, job readiness,
entrepreneurial skills, etc.) and services, and for general operations.
The organization would also like to expand to teach vocational education and
act as a job placement site.
Cease Fire ... Don't Smoke
the Brothers and Sisters, Inc. is recognized by the I.R.S. as a
501 (c) (3) non-profit charitable organization. All donations are tax
deductible. You can help by sending a check or money order made payable to: Cease Fire …DSTB, 4708 – 14th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20011. You can also help by adopting a bill (utility, vehicle insurance,
One of the programs the organization had to excise is their 24-hours,
seven-days a week street patrols, where they once traveled to the major
hotspots in every quadrant of the city in their recognizable truck that
bears the organization’s name and logo. You
can also make a secure donation online through paypal at: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr? cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=H3YK5WFQUQVHY.
In addition, if you work for the federal government, you can give through
the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC #73886).
Your donation can help the organization in its
mission to steer at-risk youth, gang members, ex gang members and ex-prisoners
from recidivating and becoming incarcerated, or worse yet, killed, by
sending in your tax deductible donation. All amounts are welcome.
Disclosure: Writer serves on the board of this worthy organization.