One Step at a Time

Walkingdown_2

Like he does at every home game, Pete Carroll led a procession down the Coliseum tunnel on Saturday.

This time, the click-clack of cleats was exchanged for the playful thump of drums.

USC’s chilling chant of "war time" was replaced by children calling for "peace, unity, family, and love."

As the crowd emerged into the sun-splashed stadium, a spotlight was cast on Carroll’s crusade to stop the violence that’s occurring in urban Los Angeles. For the last four years, USC’s football coach has built relationships with community leaders and ventured into gang infested areas where most people would never expect to see a famous face. For the most part, Carroll hasn’t let the press come with him. He’s been joined by an adventurous feature writer here and there, but never invited a throng of camera crews. That all changed for this event.

Signs

Local and national media showed up to cover LA LivePeace 08, a march
and rally to raise awareness about violence and encourage participants
"to not just talk about peace, but to live peace." Officials made a generous estimate of over 1,000 attendees. It appeared to be a successful coming out party.

Carroll leveraged his own celebrity to put turn the spotlight onto speakers representing local groups
like Homies Unidos, Maximum Force, and Project Cry No More. Not even Carroll could match the passionate oratory of Blinky Rodriguez from
Communities in Schools.

Rodriguez fired up the crowd with tales of the violence that he had witnessed. "This work is not ordinary," he shouted while extolling the efforts of those struggling in nearby communities. "It’s extraordinary."

Carroll’s speech focused on children and empowering them to make the right choices. He broke it down into small increments, explaining the impact that can be made by helping the life of just one kid. "Soon, we will find that by building our peace corps in this city, the numbers of our workers will outnumber the thugs and the guys who can’t see it any other way — and we will win. We will beat this thing."

With all the feel-good vibes, including a performance by the Agape International Choir, something about the event seemed very NorCal. Appropriately, the Mayor of San Francisco came down and told the crowd that he was there to watch and learn.

Gavin Newsom already knows a thing or two about violence. He’s unique among big city mayors because of his commitment to visit every murder scene in his town. Talking while the march was going on, he observed that this effort was unique. Most movements Newsom sees are in reaction to a particular incident or series of crimes, and he was "glad to see Pete [Carroll] be more proactive."

Pledge

Other big names at the event included LA City Councilman Bernard Parks, LA County Sheriff Lee Baca, LAPD Deputy Chief Charlie Beck, and actor Ving Rhames. Bo Taylor, founder of Unity One, praised the large number of law enforcement officials who joined in the march to show support for the communities they work in. He also spoke about how he first started working with Carroll on his trips into the inner city, and then of Carroll’s personal support in Taylor’s recent fight with cancer.

As the choir sang and people danced to end the event, Carroll suggested how others can help. "It’s about living it," he said, hoping that as more people become aware of the problem that they would see their own ways to contribute. If they need some guidance, "come to ABetterLA.org and we’ll direct ’em from there!"

Drummers

Emerging

Fromback

Signs2

Kyle Bunch

Partnerships for R/GA Ventures. Raised in California, adopted by Texas. Opinions expressed here are mine and they are fantastic.

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