They’re turning their anger into art.
Twenty youngsters affected by gun violence and police brutality were given an outlet to express their pain through music and poetry, during a four-day intensive Hip Hop Summer Camp for Social Justice at Harlem’s SCAN Johnson Community Center.
I want people to feel what I’ve been through.
“I can paint a vivid picture with music,” said Michael David Love, 21, of East Harlem, whose life changed after he watched cops roughup his friend.
“I was furious, scared, nervous. I didn’t know how to act toward it at all,” the young rapper said. “I want people to feel what I’ve been through.”
The program — sponsored by Urban Art Beat, Art Start and The Next Youth Coalition — kicked off Aug. 18 amid protests over the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island and Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO. Garner died July 17 after officers placed him in a chokehold and Brown, whose death sparked national outrage and riots, was shot dead by police on Aug. 9.
It connects aspiring emcees, poets and singers, between the ages of 13 and 21, with industry professionals and anti-violence groups to craft performances that express their experiences.
Their works were showcased last Sunday at The Youth Speak Out Against Police Brutality event at Marcus Garvey Park and on Aug. 23 in Brooklyn for the 20th Annual Day of Remembrance for Nicholas Heyward Jr., who was shot dead by police in 1994.
“It is a bit of magic,” said Rosaleen Knoepfel, who founded Urban Art Beat in 2005 in response to mounting gun violence. “It’s intense emotionally and productively.”
“People are really angry,” she said, “but don’t always translate that into change.”