Not many know about the event that occurs every Saturday at different parks around Madison. “Stop The Violence” is not a protest, it is not a march, it is an event meant to bring people together of all races, genders, and religions to enjoy time together. In the face of gun violence, black-on-black crime, gang-related “beef,” and tensions between the community and police, this is the time to forget about all of that and show that we are better – our city doesn’t have to be “that city.”
This idea started with four minds, Antoine McNeail, Jamal Jackson, Divine Wilson and Carl Mcclarn, and with some help from Rumont Tekay and Tammie Shannon along they way. McNeail says the are trying to change the way their city is portrayed, and to bring the joy, comfort and safety back to the community.
The event occurs at different parks every Saturday, “to show that no matter what community you are in you can feel safe,” McNeail says. The purpose of this event is to inform the community there are safe places to go and enjoy Madison and the people in it.
“There are not a lot of places we can go that does not separate us,” McNeail says. This event is meant to unite everyone, not exclude or separate in any way, and that is one of the reasons it is at different parks every week.
McNeail says despite all of the violence that occurs in our city and communities, people should be able to feel safe. Parents should also feel safe, and families should be able to enjoy themselves and come together with other people who also want to enjoy themselves.
McNeail hopes these events are a start to building that support, coming together with people who you may have never met, whom you see every day but say nothing to, and people who you may even have disagreed with in the past. He says this event is a start to a new beginning, a change in the right direction. He hopes to build and go beyond the regular annual events that people already attend such as Brat Fest, Juneteenth and Shake the Lake.
The “Stop the Violence” events feature door prizes for adults and children to win, a DJ, food, and love to spread for the community. It usually starts at 4 p.m. and ends around 9 p.m at the latest. Between those times it’s nothing but a good atmosphere and people walking around and talking to people that don’t really know, but the energy is amazing and it’s a good start to opening up to something bigger.
McNeial says the organizers started this whole operation out of their own pockets, and along the way, they have been able to get other people to contribute ideas, food, water, prizes and so on.
For anyone that wants to be apart of making this change, upcoming Stop the Violence picnics are scheduled for July 22 at Elvehjem Park and July 29 at Demetral Park. Organizers welcome any donations, including food, water, or even ideas for future events. These events will be going on for the rest of the summer and organizers hope to continue during the school year in an indoor facility. Anyone interested in donating or becoming involved can contact Antoine McNeail at firstname.lastname@example.org.