Russell Simmons is asking residents, famous people and elected officials to help a local organization deal with the dramatic increase in shooting deaths in his home borough of Queens, New York.
Because The New York Times reports that gun violence has increased in the 113th precinct by 40 percent compared to this time last year, which includes Simmons’ neighborhood of Hollis, Southeast Jamaica, Springfield Gardens and St. Albans.
Earlier this month, Simmons sent a statement to HipHopDX, where the 61-year-old said he couldn’t go directly to the annual dinner that he throws for mothers whose children were killed, because he had to attend a wake.
A childhood friend of his named Marcellus had a son who was recently killed by gunfire, and Simmons said it was just one example of how dire things have gotten in Queens.
“The recent dinners have had mostly the same mothers because Life Camp (the program that I support) and the residents have held the violence to a minimum,” wrote Simmons. “This year was very, very different. Instead of going directly to the dinner, I was asked to stop at a church for a wake. My brother who I grew up with, Marcellus, lost his son Marcellus Jr.”
“At the dinner, we recommitted to work on lifting our community,” he added. “We reaffirmed our love for each other and our work.”
“Today, I am asking for all of my Queens Congressman, council members, community members, rappers and Hip Hop success stories to join me in helping Life Camp expand their good work. I promise to donate more and support more than I have in the past The time is now. What will you do?” Simmons concluded.
At the moment, Life Camp is asking for donations that will help hire “20 credible community messengers for the next 3 months.”
They also want to purchase uniforms and supplies for their violence intervention street teams and extend the hours of their Peace Mobile, which is described as a mobile crisis unit.
The donations would also help create “safe corridors” for children in Queens to travel back and forth to school safely.