Friday, October 9, 2015

Disguised Stay-Away Warning: News Coverage of Email to Capitol Police

20th Anniversary of The Million Man March

Written by Charlotte A. Williams

Many news sources reported on a fear-laden letter transmitted via e-mail to U.S. Capitol Police a month ago that predicted violence at this Saturday’s  20th Anniversary of the Million Man March, “Justice Or Else!” rally led by Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of  Islam. This writer was not surprised when she read and heard about it via online newspapers and news broadcasts, mind you, just three days before the rally. Was reporting on someone’s irrational and baseless fear a subliminal message that served as a disguised stay-away warning from the rally by media? The Capitol police chief distanced himself from the letter, saying he had not seen it nor had it been approved by him, according to news reports.

The same sources also said the writer of the letter is afraid that Farrakhan’s speech will incite violence. The fact is, Farrakhan has a standing record for bringing thousands, even a million people together without an incident of violence; so what is behind the irrational fear?

 What appears to be a phobia rooted in a false premise, the writer’s fears probably became heightened because Farrakhan is an influential African-American man who has the audacity to challenge the status quo - - and is powerful enough to gather a large flock to demand of government representatives - - to cease and desist from unequal and unfair practices that keep the majority socially and economically disadvantaged - - to the advantage of the social elite. This writer finds the e-mailed letter frightening because it implants fear and also suggests to susceptible police officers that they should adopt a ready-to-fight mindset while working at the rally, which of course could manifest, consciously or unconsciously, in overreacting to a misperceived threat.


Although the public has the right to know, reporting the story as if the e-mail were creditable may have subliminally signaled to fringe lunatics that they should show up to provoke a dust up. Some audiences may find that covering the e-mail story was nothing more than fear mongering and a veiled attempt at keeping people away from a large peaceful assembly, only to later report that Farrakhan no longer has the charisma to attract large audiences and that the event had a markedly low turnout.

 Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “All we want to say to America is be true to what you said on paper.”  And that is what this rally is all about; making America accountable for promises it has not kept.  Justice! or else we’re gonna  trouble the economy until you practice what you’ve put in writing, in the U.S. Constitution, in treaties, etc. There's an old saying, "Practice what you preach." What is so wrong about demanding fairness and equal treatment?


Unlike the speech 20 years ago on reconciliation and atonement pitched to African-American men, Saturday’s rally will be inclusive to other marginalized groups. In addition to African Americans, Native Americans will be coming out of the shadows in droves to participate; they will lead the march in their native regalia, singing and dancing, a part of their religious rites. Women, Latinos and “poor whites,” will also be participating. So, what is there to fear?  a possible majority African-American audience, perhaps? Well, this writer will be pooh-poohing any hint at violence from a phobic like the letter writer or from the naysayers. In addition, this writer will also defy what appears to be a subliminal message to stay away.

Justice Or Else

Melody to Wade In The Water

 Justice or else,
Justice or else
do you hear us now?

Justice or else,
we’re gonna trouble the economy.
(fade) We’re gonna cripple the economy.

Charlotte A. Williams © 2015
#Million Man March,#10/10/15,,,,,,,,,,@WashingtonInformer,WashingtonTimes,,@TheWashingtonAfro

Thursday, January 29, 2015


Race and Politics: GAYS NOT ATTACKED! ACTIVIST AL-MALIK FARRAKHAN DEF...: Written by: Charlotte A. Williams  (Link to Will Sommer's article at the end of my letter) Mr. Sommer:    I feel compelled to w...


Written by: Charlotte A. Williams

 (Link to Will Sommer's article at the end of my letter)

Mr. Sommer: 

I feel compelled to write you for various reasons, chief among them, the negative impact and fallout that your misleading article had on the reputation of Mr. Al-Malik Farrakhan (no relations to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan). In addition, your failure to keep an agreed upon meeting with Mr. Farrakhan on December 30th,  denied him the opportunity to discuss with you his exception to your piece in the Loose Lips column (December 1, 2014, online). He was prepared to share with you transcripts from an audio recording of that day’s event that I prepared for the meeting.  Mr. Farrakhan shared your texts messages with me and I find it suspect that you would cancel that meeting after sending him the following text message:


From: Will Sommer <;
Date: December 24, 2014, 3:32:46 PM EST
To: Al-malik farrakhan <>
Subject: Re: Meeting with Al-Malik Farrakhan

“In the meantime, if you believe there's a factual error in my Barry memorial story,
please let me know as soon as possible. Washington City Paper strives for accuracy,  and if you believe there has been an error, the better that can  get corrected (if it is indeed in error), the better.”

In addition, I certainly could not turn a blind eye after reading negative comments left on news-generated message boards as well as on message boards from blogs spawned by your negative story.

You sounded a false alarm with your screaming and misleading headline: Harry Thomas Jr., Anti-Gay Slurs Make Appearances at Barry Memorial.” You failed to substantiate your slant that Mr. Farrakhan’s use of the word “faggot” was in the context of a verbal assault on gays. Judging from some of the comments left on message boards, many of your readers wrongly concluded that Mr. Farrakhan slung “anti-gay slurs” at members of the gay community, which as you know is a false conclusion.

Some of the comments along with the ensuing brouhaha that unfairly targeted D.C. Councilmember Vincent Orange, serve as standing proof of this. You maligned Mr. Farrakhan unfairly by ignoring the context in which he used the word faggot, and not to mention that your angle on former D.C. Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. was a distortion of the facts, and boy, oh boy, did you ever spread it on. I’ll get back to that later.

You were at the memorial, so you know the following quote is how Mr. Farrakhan prefaced the word faggot: “We weren’t in the penitentiary as no [sic] punks, no [sic] faggots; we fought against injustices…”   You wrote: “Al-Malik Farrakhan urged disadvantaged Washingtonians to develop a political agenda and stop behaving like "faggots and "females.” This quote in addition to your misleading headline acted as sign posts for readers to follow and wrongly conclude that Mr. Farrakhan was an anti-gay bigot and misogynist.

While I appreciated the transcripts from your very brief interview with Mr. Farrakhan that you posted here in reply to his letter to you (found on this thread), and the nanoseconds of audio of that interview that you forwarded me at my request; there was never a bone of contention over whether or not Mr. Farrakhan uttered the word faggot, he did. What one might argue is word choice, intent and word usage, but not “anti-gay slurs” as if he attacked members of the gay community; because that simply would not be true. Your piece led readers to make false assumptions rooted in a false premise that if one used the word faggot, that he or she must have used it as an anti-gay slur; if the premise is false, so too is the conclusion. 


Putting Mr. Farrakhan’s words in the right context, he was talking about ex-prisoners showing backbone by mobilizing and becoming a political force just as you suggested in the aforementioned quote about “developing a political agenda.” What’s most obvious can be heard in your audio interview with Mr. Farrakhan: You asked, “Uh, during your speech, uh, you made a reference to, uh, faggots, uh, did, did [sic] you say that? Uh, uh, what, what [sic] was that in reference to? I heard you say that, uh, the ex-offender community or, or perhaps in generally underprivileged people in general need …” Click on audio link below.

So you knew that Mr. Farrakhan was not talking about sexuality, let alone gays, Mr. Sommer.  The average reader most likely would not have discerned that from your misleading headline and bigoted-misogynistic- carefully-framed quote that only served to influence opinion from the outset, despite its illogical inference. This was a celebration of the life of Mr. Marion Barry, for heaven sakes, not an anti-gay rally.

Given the context, Mr. Farrakhan’s intended audience (ex-prisoners and family and friends of ex-prisoners) and the definition that many African Americans, prisoners and ex-prisoners understand the word faggot to mean, Mr. Farrakhan’s use of the word in his extemporaneous speech was on point for his audience. For well over 50 years, the word faggot in African-American social culture as well as in prison culture (which also includes whites and other racial and ethnic groups) has meant a weakling; or someone too afraid to stand up for himself or herself and fight back. Off the top, words I would say are synonymous with faggot in this context would be coward, punk, sissy, wimp and jellyfish.


Moreover, the word faggot has absolutely nothing at all to do with one's sexuality when used in this context, let alone homosexuality. And it is most likely the reason for why many in the predominately African-American audience that included ex-prisoners, professionals (including other reporters) and everyday people, seemed nonplussed when Mr. Farrakhan included the words faggot and punk in his speech, this, according to Freelance Journalist Valencia Muhammad in her letter of support of Mr. Farrakhan posted here. Muhammad attended the celebration of life for Mr. Barry.


Was Mr. Farrakhan’s utterance of the word punk the reason you added the “s” on slur in your headline? While you identified faggot in your chosen quote, you failed to name the other (s) anti-gay slur. Nowadays, the intellectually curious might consult the Urban Dictionary before jumping to conclusions. You know, for when the “just in case I might be wrong” factor kicks in -before publishing. The hint to consult a slang dictionary should have kicked in when there were no gasps coming from the audience, according to Ms. Muhammad.


The definition of faggot held by the demographic groups I cited is not exclusive to them. White actor and stand-up comedian Joe Rogan who has never been incarcerated seems to hold the same view that faggot is not an anti-gay slur.  The following quote was attributed to Rogan in a ‘10 post in the Washington City Paper: “Faggot never meant “gay” when I was a kid. You kind of knew that you could call a gay person faggot if you were ignorant, but nobody ever called someone a faggot if they were gay.” Rogan also said, “It’s about a guy wimping out, being a douchebag. It has nothing to do with your sexual orientation.”

The Urban Dictionary’s definition:



                  In these times not really used if somebody is really a homosexual.

                             Ralph: Chris hasn't been answering his phone.

                             John: Yeah, he is probably hanging out with those other kids that’s why.
                             Ralph: He is such a faggot.     
                             John: Yeah him and his faggot friends.

                             by Matt March 17, 2005


Just in case punk is the other word you were suggesting as an anti-gay slur, Mr. Farrakhan used it in the same context as faggot – meaning a weakling. The original meaning of punk meant prostitute, a slur. I don’t know anyone today who would use the word punk in that way, do you? Today, punk has so many different meanings that calling it a slur today would be a misnomer.


 So you see, Mr. Sommer, meanings do evolve and that is why context, social/cultural language and targeted audience are important factors to consider when interpreting intent. In this case, it is apparent by Mr. Farrakhan’s theme - mobilizing the ex-prisoner community that he never slung an anti-gay epithet at gays or at anyone else for that matter. Remember, you said, “Mr. Farrakhan urged disadvantaged Washingtonians to develop a political agenda.” In that context, Mr. Farrakhan’s intent was clear - a call to action.


And oh, by the way, according to vocabulary, the etymology of faggot is “to tie or bind together, especially a bunch of sticks.” So, your narrow definition of the word faggot evolved out of this definition and somehow got assigned to male homosexuals. It had long since evolved to mean a weakling among certain demographic groups, and has since evolved to include the Urban Dictionary’s definition (


On top of all of this, you also misinterpreted Mr. Farrakhan’s use of figurative language during his call to action. What Mr. Farrakhan actually said was, “We [men] prostrate like we’re some females…” It is no big secret that female ex-prisoners have never mobilized like male ex-prisoners who stand up against discrimination that hinders their successful reintegration in society, hence the quote. Once again, Mr. Farrakhan was addressing his intended audience, ex-prisoners and family and friends of ex-prisoners.  He prefaced that particular quote, saying: “and then we come home, huh? and then we prostrate like we’re some females or something!”  Mr. Farrakhan was addressing those male and female ex-prisoners who sit on the side lines. He followed the quote in question, saying: Come on men, I’m talking to us! Sisters, I’m talking to you!”


Keeping the backdrop of Mr. Farrakhan’s speech in context, Mr. Farrakhan shared with his audience during the memorial service how years earlier he had warned an audience of ex-prisoners that the day the Mayor for Life Marion Barry died would be the day that their hopes for having their needs addressed would die, because they [ex-prisoners] were not working together as a unified group to lobby in their interests. Bringing his speech to the present, Mr. Farrakhan stressed that male and female ex-prisoners alike must unify in order to build a strong foundation.  


Mr. Farrakhan went on to say, “but if we don’t have a foundation up under us, under us, we got nothing. All the unity in the world it’ll be evaporated like that; it will become like a weak chain, because we keep being divided by little crumbs, instead of putting that foundation up under us and putting that cement in between.” This was Mr. Farrakhan’s repeated thread – mobilizing (male and female ex-prisoners) to become a political force. It had nothing to do with the gay community – period. So why did you intertwine bigotry against gays (anti-gay slurs) with Mr. Farrakhan’s message to ex-prisoners? Why?

And now, back to the Harry Thomas Jr. angle. Let’s just say that it was completely distorted and a reckless disregard for the truth. Here’s what you wrote:


 “Disgraced ex-Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr., who's still serving time  in a D.C.-area halfway house, made an appearance to heavy  applause from the crowd of three or four dozen. Farrakhan welcomed  him with an old story about how Thomas —who plundered grant money meant for kids around the  same time—always carried around wads of hundred dollar bills in his wallet.”

What a twist! Your story is not the story that Mr. Farrakhan regurgitated for his audience and the disgraced former council member.  He never once said that Harry Thomas Jr., who fell from grace after being convicted of embezzlement, “always carried around wads of hundred dollar bills in his wallet.” And more importantly, Mr. Farrakhan never once told his audience that Harry Thomas Jr. ever gave him one red cent – period!

What Mr. Farrakhan clearly said while simultaneously joking with the former council member and introducing him at the podium, was that the councilman’s father, Harry Thomas Sr., the beloved three-term Ward 5 councilman who died in ’99, was the one who gave him money. Although no blood relations to the Thomas family, in what could be best described as a “Dad liked me better than you” routine, Mr. Farrakhan shared with his audience that Harry Thomas Jr. once told him that he wanted to get him in a boxing ring one day and beat him up. Mr. Farrakhan:

                             “I told him his father would jump him, man.

                             Harry Sr. would tear him up because he    loved

                              some Al-Malik Farrakhan and Cease Fire…Don’t

                             Smoke The Brothers and Sisters. Every time I’d see

                              him, he’d walk    up to me, right? He’d say, ‘What you

                             got in your  pocket, son?’ I’d say, I ain’t got nothing.

                             He’d go in and pull them hundred dollar bills out.

                             He’d say, ‘here.’”


Mr. Sommer, you cast Mr. Farrakhan in a false light by suggesting to your readers that he was accepting money from Harry Thomas Jr., which was bad enough, but then you added, “around the same time [Harry Thomas Jr.] plundered grant money meant for kids.” The juxtaposition was malicious.

 It cannot be denied that you omitted important texts from Mr. Farrakhan’s speech that might have given your readers a different perspective. You wrongly painted Mr. Farrakhan as an anti- gay basher, misogynist (“stop behaving like "faggots and "females”) and shady at best (Harry Thomas Jr. angle), when none of those things are true. Some of the comments posted on news-generated message boards and also on blog message boards give credence to my statement. Once again, your damaging article might have negatively impacted fund raising for Mr. Farrakhan’s organization, Cease Fire…Don’t Smoke The Brothers and Sisters, Inc., and also requests for him to speak at different events.


Mr. Farrakhan is a man who is very passionate about his work with at-risk youth, ex-prisoners, gang bangers and former gang bangers, and about quashing beefs. His organization has educated many with entrepreneurial skills, G.E.D. preparation, television production in addition to other programs and services offered. He has been fighting injustices on different fronts for many, many years.


 In her letter to you in support of Mr. Farrakhan, Social Activist Anise Jenkins, who was one of the speakers at the memorial celebration, cited an incident about a wheelchair bound Mr. Farrakhan rushing to the aid of an openly gay white man who was being physically assaulted by police at a D.C. Control Board hearing. The police tussled with Mr. Farrakhan, “knocking him out of his wheelchair,” she wrote.


A reporter from The Washington Post, and the Washington Informer newspaper, respectively, covered the memorial event and neither reporter mentioned the use of the words faggot or punk in his or her published story. And, a couple of my friends told me on the day of the ex-prisoners service that they saw television news reports on the event and not one of them ever mentioned anything that sounded remotely like your story, not a one.


Setting the record straight, Mr. Farrakhan loved the late Mayor For Life Marion S. Barry Jr. and never would have said or done anything to dishonor his memory. As a matter of fact, it was Mr. Farrakhan who came up with the idea for ex-prisoners and the families and friends of ex-prisoners to hold their own celebration. He planned and organized it down to the minutest detail in three days.


And, Mr. Farrakhan also respects Councilman Vincent Orange and would never consciously say anything to put him in an embarrassing situation.  A former gang leader and ex-prisoner himself, Mr. Farrakhan is well versed in street and prison jargon, hence, faggot and punk. On February 28, 1995, Mr. Farrakhan met with 50 gang members who represented five different warring factions in D.C.  to call for a truce. That meeting took place in then Mayor Marion S. Barry Jr.'s office. Mr. Farrakhan met with the young men for several months before successfully getting the members to call a truce – a truce that to date has never been broken. Being able to communicate was a key factor and Mr. Farrakhan knows how to communicate with the population he serves.


As for using Councilman Vincent Orange’s last public response concerning this matter, he never should have been subjected to having account for the misinterpretation of others. You, yourself know that neither the subject of gays or sexuality ever came up at the ex-prisoners’ homage to the late Marion S. Barry Jr. I can only imagine that the look you described on Councilman Orange’s face was probably a look of, “Uh-oh, I know that will get misinterpreted.” Your framing of the story caused the councilman to be taken to task unfairly, because according to some, he did not publicly admonish Mr. Farrakhan (for his anti-gay slurs) in the way that they felt he should have. It’s interesting, though, how a majority of the people who posted comments on a blog spun from this angle of your story - felt that if they ever found themselves in a similar situation as Councilman Orange - that it would be best not to interrupt the speaker to admonish him or her.


Had you ever attended one of Cease Fire…Don’t Smoke The Brothers and Sisters’ annual events like the “Six Months Moratorium to Stop The Killings Cookout/Amateur Boxing Match,” where thousands of people from different races and different walks of life intermingle every August without one incident of violence, or the annual sit-down Thanksgiving Day Dinner held at the organization’s community center on Thanksgiving Day, both events free to the public, then you would have come to know that it is not the organization’s policy to espouse bigotry or hatred .


And, had you covered either event, you also would have known that anyone who walks through the door in want of a Thanksgiving Day meal, not to mention that Cease Fire…Don’t Smoke The Brothers and Sisters pick up and drop off indigent people to dine with them on Thanksgiving Day absent bigotry, is welcome. Members of the organization do not ask anyone about his or her sexuality or other demographic information as criteria for participating in any of their free activities. 


Click on the link below to read a story on the Six Months Moratorium to Stop The Killings written by me in ’12. The link below it is also on the Six Months Moratorium to Stop The Killings written by a reporter with the Washington Informer newspaper. Both stories were published in the Washington Informer.





Below is a link to a ’11 story on the Thanksgiving Day Dinner published in the Washington Informer newspaper.



There is also a story on the sit-down Thanksgiving Day dinner on my blog written by me. You can access it and an updated story covering the moratorium to stop the killings  by clicking on the link.

Mr. Sommer, you owe a strong apology to Mr. Farrakhan for mischaracterizing him and you also owe him a retraction in every news source and on every blog site where your spurious story appeared. You also owe an apology to Councilman Vincent Orange for causing a public-relations crisis.  Additionally, you owe an apology and explanation to your readership. This unfortunate event illustrates why diversity is so important. The seen and unforeseen damages caused by your ambiguous story impacts a lot of people. 

I invite you to read "Media's Racist History: A Psychological Affair" on my blog where I discuss framing, semiotic language and tacit knowledge to illustrate how our views are often shaped and manipulated by mediated messages. By the way, please do not misinterpret the title of my essay to think that I am calling you a racist when I am not.

Charlotte A. Williams, Freelance Writer
Sec’y of the Board, Cease Fire…Don’t Smoke The Brothers & Sisters, Inc.


Links to News and Blogs Sites That Carried Your Story:












Monday, June 23, 2014

Cease Fire ... Don't Smoke The Brothers & Sisters 6th Annual Six Months Moratorium to Stop The Killings Cookout/Amateur Boxing Match A Success

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.
Community Engagement
 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 BankEach 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. 

 Recognition and Thanks

 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.comand 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.”


Mrs. Deynne Nicholas (l)


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


 Measuring Success

Cease Fire … 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 Columbia(Washington, D.C.)."














Source: District Crime Data at a Glance (
 *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 16, 2013.”
Washington, 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, etc.).

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: 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.