Monday, October 02, 2006

Threat of violence cancels Oakland hip-hop anti-violence rally

Jim Herron Zamora:

A hip-hop event designed to rally young people to denounce recent killings was canceled by city officials who feared it might backfire and instead lead to more violence.

The "Get Hyphy Against Violence" rally was expected to draw up to young people today to a gathering on the plaza in front of Oakland City Hall. Organizers planned music and dance performances, political speakers and food and soft drinks.

But city officials, saying police were stretched too thin to provide adequate security for the event, abruptly pulled the plug on the event late Friday.

"Our concern was more over crowd control and traffic control," said Nicolo De Luca, deputy city administrator. "We could only get two officers to work it. We felt we needed more people."

De Luca noted that flyers for the event indicated there were nine bands over five hours when the actual permit was for a two-hour event.

"What they are doing is honorable. We support their goals very much," De Luca said. "We hope we can all work this out in the future."

Organizers, who had already distributed 4,500 fliers at local high schools and sent out e-mail notifications and postings, sent people to the site to announce the cancellation. The event was also publicized in public service announcements on local hip-hop radio stations.

"The message of the event was to promote nonviolence," said Nicole Lee, an organizer. "We tried to assure (the police) that these are all artists we have worked with in the past and everyone was on. It's just disappointing because we thought we were all approved for this event. The young performers have been practicing all week."

The event was sponsored by a number of youth service groups Covenant House, the Silence The Violence Initiative at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Youth Alive, Pivotal Point and the city of Oakland.

Lee said violence often is associated with hip-hop and "we're working to develop an alternative to that. We're trying to use hip-hop's hyphy subculture to develop a response to violence."



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