LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A community activist claims he has a plan to get local gang members to discuss their problems with each other in an attempt to stop the violence that has been plaguing the city.
Dr. Julius Larry III said Tuesday he will call a “family reunion” with the leaders of several local gangs in order to create a truce.
“They’re not lost, they’re just misguided,” he explained, “and the elders must put the youngsters back on the proper track, and that’s what we intend to do.”
Larry started by hosting a party Tuesday evening at his office, which is home to the Little Rock Sun newspaper. He had barbecue on the grill, and planned a concert with an open mic after the sun went down.
“Somebody needs to take more time out with our youth,” he mentioned. “And when that happens, we can reach them, But we’re not going to reach the millennials doing what we’ve been doing.”
Larry said he has been building trust with members of various gangs so he can get members in the same room to talk about their problems, hoping that frank discussions will lead to solutions in place of shootings.
“This is a community problem, and the community’s gonna have to stop it,” he stated. “So, it has to start on the street level, with street soldiers who have a rapport with all the YGs—the young gangsters—and would-be gangsters.”
Some of the arguments between gangs have been going on for years, or generations, so one might question whether they would agree to a meeting. Larry held no doubts.
“Well, whether they want it or not, that’s what it’s gonna have to be,” he exclaimed. “Because at some point in time, the community is fed up with the violence.”
He is also launching programs to give teens something productive to do. He runs a chess club, is organizing a drumming school, and founded a recording studio, seeing that many local drug dealers had a talent for music. He believes recording a compilation album featuring many of the top talents in the city will give them a positive outlet for their energy and emotion. But he added that there will have to be many more neighborhood programs if Little Rock wants the gangs to disappear for good.
“We have to expend more of our personal capital to save the youth,” he said. “Because if we don’t, we’re all are going to be doomed.”
He did not have a precise timeline for getting the gang members to meet with each other, but expects it to happen soon. If the gangs do agree to a truce, he plans to compile a list of their requests to deliver to the Little Rock Board of Directors. He mentioned that some gang arguments begin over a lack of park space, and that job training programs and infrastructure spending will reduce poverty and increase the level of optimism of residents of the poorest neighborhoods, which will reduce crime.