Beyonce and Jay Z guns for concert tickets
Victoria L. Johnson Special to AmNews | 2/28/2013, 3:13 p.m.
Last August, legendary singer, songwriter, actor and social activist Harry Belafonte criticized power couple Jay-Z and Beyonce. Belafonte told the Hollywood Reporter "I think one of the great abuses of this modern time is that we should have had such high-profile artists, powerful celebrities, but they have turned their back on social responsibility. That goes for Jay-Z and Beyonce, for example." Now, as a new proposal by hip-hop music manager Michael "Blue" Williams of Family Tree Entertainment comes into play, the question arises of whether or not this is the answer Belafonte wished for.
Earlier this week, Michael 'Blue' Williams proposed "Guns for Greatness," an initiative similar to New York City's current gun buyback program, instituted in 2008, that allows New York residents to surrender their guns for $250 in cash. At first, the NYPD collected 2,632 firearms, but participation has decreased since. Last year, only 941 guns were surrendered. Williams is proposing an exchange of illegal guns for incentives such as tickets to the Mrs. Carter World Tour or the Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z concert set for this summer. Other options include a mentorship opportunity with a job within Williams' record company.
Although it has not been confirmed whether Beyonce or Jay-Z has signed onto the project yet, Williams told the Daily News "[t]he Beyonce show is coming to Brooklyn; the Jay-Z show is coming to Yankee Stadium. Our goal is to reach out to individuals who are in my industry, in my world, and whom I have an association with and get their support."
Londell McMillan, entertainment attorney and publisher of the Source Magazine, co-signed the proposal along with former federal prosecutor Kenneth Thompson. McMillan stated. "There is a guns crisis out there and we need all the creative and innovative approaches to solutions at our disposal. We have to get guns off the streets and stop violence. The Source Magazine and I are personally supporting Guns for Greatness." He further stated; "Shout out to my friend Blue Williams for his leadership and others on our team for stepping up and rising to the challenge. We are grown men and women who are responsible. We need hip-hop for life."
Thompson, who is also a candidate for Brooklyn district attorney, stated "I was very excited to lend any assistance I could because I think what he (Williams) has developed is unprecedented. Blue has set up a way to reach these young men."
Retired NYPD detective and Director of Black Law Enforcement Alliance Marq Claxton stated, "Ending the genocidal plague of gun violence requires innovative ideas and action. The Guns for Greatness program appears to address a major challenge that activists, local legislators and even the Federal government have faced ... effective, direct communication and contact with our impressionable and vulnerable youth. We are fully supportive of and encouraged by the Guns for Greatness initiative because it is an improvement over the 1990's style of political grandstanding in gun buy-back events that base success on numbers as opposed to meaningful long-term impact."
Although the program may be effective, there is suspicion that if the proposal is enacted, it will not work.
Chris Foye, father of 13-year-old Chris S. Owens, who was shot April 26, 2009 by a stray bullet in Harlem, and President and Founder of The Chris S. Owens Foundation, stated that while he does support getting guns off the street, it is important to "be realistic about the program." He further explains."
In my opinion, where I'm from in Brooklyn, the real shooters are not going to go to a Beyonce concert."
In order to put the proposal into effect, Williams will need the approval of Ray Kelly, police commissioner of the NYPD. The proposal sits on Kelly's desk, but so far Kelly has told the Daily News, "We want to get as many guns off the streets, and if this works, we'd like to support it." However, he also stated, "You need police officers present. You'd need the expertise."
If the police department approves, Williams stated that he would like to launch the program March 23 at a local church.