The Streets Are Hollerin’ Peace

In 1988, the movie "Colors" brought

to the screen, Hollywood’s depiction of the ravenous violence, that over the

previous decade, had overtaken LA streets due to the war between the Crips and

Bloods.

Even West Coast Hip-Hop music of the day from

Ice T’s "6 in the Morning, to NWA’s "Straight Out of Compton,"

glorified the dangerous LA lifestyle making ‘gang banging’ Hollywood.

Fast forward to 1992 and according to a yearly

report released by the LAPD, gang related violence had claimed approx 1,900

lives in that year alone. While a large faction of Los Angelinos took to the

streets rioting in the wake of the Rodney King verdict, Daude Sherrills, with

the help of other former gang members Tony Bogart and Dewayne Holmes took to

the projects marching for peace.

"In the early 80’s gang banging was a part of west coast culture,"

former Crip, Daude Sherrills told AllHipHop.com. "A lot of us young men

came up in this, banging was our way of life, this shit ain’t Hollywood, these

streets are real. Hollywood just capitalized on it."

Tired of the stereotypes perpetuated by the media,

and more importantly the senseless loss of lives, Sherrills realized that the

only people who can fix the problems between the Crips and the Bloods, are the

Crips and the Bloods.

Serving, at the time, as Chief of Staff for Amer-I-Can,

a self-esteem program for gang members created by NFL legend Jim Brown, Sherrill’s

played an integral role in initiating talks of a truce between the Crips and

the Bloods.

Using the cease-fire agreement between Egypt

and Israel implemented in 1949 as a template, the former gang members, and chosen

representatives from each housing project, began to redraft the language of

the armistice to fit the terms of their own gang truce.

As a highly respected local figure and lifelong

resident of Watt’s Jordan Downs Housing Projects, the ‘banger" turned activist,

drafted a special section titled the "United Black Community Code"-a

list of do’s and don’ts for gang members with the stated purpose of "Taking

the necessary steps towards the renewal of peace in Watts and Los Angeles as

a whole."

The article states, among other things, "

No conflict of the land, that is, drive by shootings and random slaying or any

community representative organizations shall commit any warlike or hostile act

against the other parties or against innocent civilians in the neighborhoods

under the influence of that community representative (gang)."

After two years of back and forth talks between

the representatives of the four projects (Jordan Downs, Nickerson Gardens, PJ’s

at Imperial Courts & Hacienda) the final agreement was drafted and signed

April 29, 1994.

After two years of an active truce, even former

Deputy Police Chief Ronald A. Frankie gave credit to the truce in a Los Angeles

Times interview saying, "There’s no question there has been a real decrease

in violence among black gangs."

As the 10-year anniversary of the truce signing

comes around, the 502 gang related deaths for 2003 are less than the number

of lives taken in the current crisis in Iraq to date.

Although progress has been made, there is still

a lot of work to do concedes the community leader. "When I was bangin,

people were dying strictly for colors," explains Sherrills, "Now any

conflict in the hood is usually due to a particular circumstance. You can wear

whatever you want now, things are totally different these days."

Watts will celebrate it’s first inner-city peace

awards to be held this summer.

With the help of community activists like Danny

Bakewell and Stevie Wonder on board to participate, the city is ready to glorify

their call for peace instead of celebrating violence.

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