Hip-hop artist the Game urged gang members from across Southern California on Sunday to stop the violence in the midst of the national focus on the recent police shootings of African-American men.
The Game, whose real name is Jayceon Terrell Taylor, told the hundreds gathered for a town-hall style meeting at a South Los Angeles community center that he was pushing a positive message because one day, he hopes his daughter will be able to walk the streets “a little safer.”
“Your life should mean more to you,” he told the crowd. “Your life should mean more to you than what you’re showing.”
Nation of Islam Minister Tony Muhammad, who helped organize the event, said it’s time for the black community to come together.
“Come on black community, it’s time for us to stand up and unite,” he said.
At one point, Muhammad asked those in the crowd who have lost someone to gang violence to stand. Hundreds did.
“Wow,” he said.
In an Instagram post before the meeting, Game, who grew up in Compton, extended his invitation “to all CRIPS, BLOODS, ESE's & all other gang members, major figures & GANG LEADERS from every hood in our city as well as the surrounding cities to our meeting,” the rapper wrote in an Instagram post.
The event, billed “Time To Unite: United Hoods + Gangs Nation,” was supported by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, according to advertisements. It was held at a Church of Scientology center in the Vermont Knolls neighborhood. Rapper Snoop Dogg, who was billed as a co-host of the event, did not attend.
In his Instagram post Sunday morning, before news spread of the killings of three police officers in Baton Rouge, La., the Game wrote that the meeting would be a “much needed conversation” about how participants could do their part to stop urban violence.
“Because the sad truth that no one wants to face is, before we can get OUR LIVES TO MATTER to anyone else…We have to show that OUR LIVES MATTER to US!!!!,” he wrote.
The speakers Sunday ranged from current gang members to former gang members who now work to help quell violence to Big Boy, a local radio personality.
Ben “Taco” Owens, who supervises gang-intervention workers at a local nonprofit, told the group that he believes “that you’re here because you want to change.”
“This is a very, very critical moment in our city and in our lives,” he said, adding that two people were killed in Gardena, where he is from, in one week.
Michael “Big Mike” Cummings, a gang-intervention worker in Watts, said he is “sick and tired of losing our babies.”
“The only thing that needs to be divided by colors is our laundry,” he said.
After the event, Dom Black, a 22-year-old who was raised in the surrounding neighborhood of Westmont, stood outside the church. Black said he has been beat up and shot at in his community and wants to see a change.
“I came out here because I feel like the change starts inside,” he said.
Meanwhile, men and women gathered inside the church continued to sign a banner declaring a Bloods and Crips peace treaty.
5:15 p.m. This story has been updated with new details about who attended the summit.
3:22 p.m.: This story has been updated with new details and comments from the gang summit.
This story was originally published at 11:15 a.m.