“This all started because of a feeling we — myself, and we as a community — had watching two men die in front of their families on television,” says Problem, the Compton rapper, talking about the recent deadly police shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota.
“Me and The Game just called each other after the first killing in Baton Rouge. It was like 1 in the morning, and we were just upset. He was trying to explain to his kids what happened, and I was trying to explain what happened to my kids, and we just talked about it for a while and planned.”
That plan became the seed of Hate Us Not Today, or H.U.N.T., an organization that hopes to create and sustain a loose coalition of different L.A. gangs and sets, as well as open a dialogue between the LAPD and the African-American and Latino communities they patrol.
“They need to start calling themselves peace officers again. They can’t be scared of the black community or scared of the Latino community. We don’t want that no more,” Problem says. "We shouldn’t be afraid of you, and you shouldn’t be afraid of us. It should be protect and serve, not point and shoot.”
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H.U.N.T. started this dialogue by meeting with LAPD chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Eric Garcetti, first when H.U.N.T. marched on LAPD headquarters earlier in the month and, more recently, after both the mayor and the police chief showed up to a H.U.N.T.-sponsored gang unity summit on Sunday, July 17. But both Beck and Garcetti left the building before the summit actually started.
“The meetings that we’ve had that haven’t been televised have been more effective in my opinion — very real, very raw on both sides," Problem says. "Please know that we’re not in there smiling and shaking hands. I definitely asked the questions I wanted to know, like how many black and Latino cops accidentally shot white people? And nobody could produce the stats. The summit was a great beginning, though. Next time I’d love for the mayor to speak, for the chief of police to speak; I would love for them to hear what the streets have to say.”
At the unity summit, members of the Bloods, Crip and other gangs, as well as representatives from the Nation of Islam, discussed how to create a coalition of gang and set members to peacefully mitigate relations between themselves and how they, as a collective, could help reform relations with the LAPD, both for themselves and for the communities in which they live.
“I saw a lot of sets together that I thought I’d never see together discussing peace. All ready to come together and stop the other war that’s going on,” Problem says. “I tell everybody, I don’t know if we’re going to change the world, but I was given a voice and a platform to move people. I can’t not use my voice."