NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Stop the Violence (STVT) partnered with We Matter, a community outreach team, to host an open mic in Norfolk on Saturday evening.
Event organizers hope by providing this positive avenue of expression, people will find a different way to channel their emotions instead of leaning into the cycle of gun violence.
Participants we able to perform their rap, poetry, and music to others. Although only a few people performed, close to seventy people were there at the event.
Latisha Riddick, president of We Matter, said tonight’s goal was to help children start to heal from possible trauma.
“The stereotype is that every child out here is a gang member and they’re bad kids because of where they live at or maybe how they dress,” said Riddick. “That’s not the case. Just because you dress a type of way doesn’t mean you’re a bad child, or just because you’re acting out doesn’t mean you’re a bad child. It might be because of the trauma you’re going through because of the neighborhood you’re living in.”
Riddick is hoping her organization We Matter will continue to host events like this monthly.
“We’re not just here one time just to show up,” Riddick added. “We’re gonna always keep coming here so you know you have a team that actually love y’all and we wanna make you sure grow in the right way.”
Bilal Muhammad, a STVT leader, tells 10 On Your Side that events like this won’t completely stop everyone from using violence as an answer, but it’s a start.
“They looking at us to lead them in a better direction,” said Muhammad.
Just last weekend, Muhammad responded to a homicide on Madison Avenue in Norfolk in hopes of helping locals come together and have a candid conversation about violence in their neighborhood.
It wasn’t Muhammad’s first time in the area. He was trying to have this same conversation back in July with the community after four children, ages 6 to 16, were shot.