LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — Three Little Rock men are organizing an effort at Little Rock City Hall to prove the love of a music genre does not have to lead to violence.
Hassan, Freddy Miller and Jay Fly Life are calling the event on Saturday, Nov. 18 #RapOverViolence. They are concerned that more rap and hip-hop concerts could be cancelled in the future, so they are setting out to prove that rap music is not a catalyst for crime. It is an escape.
"If they going to shut this down or try to stop this, like who's to say they're not going to say you can't through anymore local shows,” Miller said.
The men are all born and raised in Little Rock. They each have grown to have a deep passion for rap music.
'We get to express ourselves. What we've been through. Everything. This is my outlet. I feel like that's all I have,” Jay said.
In July, more than 20 people were injured after a shooting at a rap concert at Power Ultra Lounge. Questions were raised on the future of holding rap and hip-hop concerts in Little Rock.
Last month, a Moneybagg Yo concert at the Metroplex was cancelled due to concerns over violence. According to an email from the City of Little Rock, the show was canceled shortly after they scheduled a special meeting to discuss the show.
In the letter to Richard J. Bressler, President of iHeartMedia, Little Rock Policed Chief Kenton Buckner detailed violence at Moneybagg Yo's past shows including an incident where a man was shot and killed at a Mississippi concert. Buckner also claimed that "[LRPD's] intelligence" indicated that a vehicle Moneybagg was inside of was shot at in New Jersey because "he did not pay a protection fee to the Sex Money Murder Bloods gang."
"The reason that we're doing it is because of the censorship of urban music that has been going on,” Hassan said. “It’s hindering us in more ways than they even know.”
Hassan said they are organizing the protest at City Hall because they want to show that not all rap artists are bad. They are worried more rap concerts will be cancelled, affecting their work as rap artists.
"It's some of our livelihoods. You know, some of us, it's our escape as far as mentality. Some of the things that we sometimes have to deal with in our communities sometimes it just help to soothe it,” Hassan said.
Hassan said the rap music is not the problem and the sometimes violent lyrics does not mean an artist is violent themselves.
“Most time what it is, that artist is expressing themselves what they’ve been through, past experiences things like that,” he said.
The protest will not only focus on the recent censoring of rap artists, but it will also bring light to the increased violence in the capital city.
"Other than the HBO special banging in Little Rock. We want some positive stuff coming. That's not doing nothing more than bring light to violence. We're trying to stop the violence,” Miller said.
Hassan said he hopes this protest will bring change to his community.
"We want to shed light to the violence, education. Anything that's going wrong honestly in our communities. We're really looking to better our communities in any way that we can,” Hassan said.
Miller said he is unhappy with the way the city handles the violence in Little Rock. He said Saturday will be a way for him to describe his frustration.
"One thing I can point out is that, I know this is old but they built the 12th street police station on the west side. I feel like they could have done a whole bunch of other things to help with the community. Other than just bring a police station in the middle of it. That’s not going to stop anything,” Miller said. “We could all just do a lot better. Feeding people. The streets. Streets need to be fixed. Schools need books.”
The group said the protest Saturday at noon will remain peaceful.
THV11 reached out to the city and Mayor Mark Stodola for comment Thursday, Nov. 16. They said they respect the group’s right to peacefully protest on city hall’s steps.