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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Greensboro gangs unite to build peace

It appears that nothing will stop the efforts of Jorge Cornell and the rest of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (ALKQN) to create peace in Greensboro. Cornell, the founder and head of the ALKQN nation for North Carolina, is still recovering from gunshot wounds from an unknown assailant in early August 2008. After the shooting, which Greensboro Police attempted to characterize as gang-related, Cornell released a statement forgiving whoever shot him and repeating his commitment to combat gang violence, racism, and police brutality in Greensboro.With the support of the Pulpit Forum of Greensboro and the Nation of Islam, five street organizations often referred to as gangs reached a peace agreement on July 23. In the statement, entitled “Towards Peace Among Us (‘Gangs’),” the ALKQN, Almighty Black Peace Stone Nation, the Crips, the Five Percenters, and the Piru Bloods asserted their commitment to “peace with each other and among each other” as well as calling on other gangs and the community at large to “lay down violence and join us in working together for peace among us and within our community.”

In addition to the more immediate goal of ending gang violence, those involved in the peace treaty also aim to unite to address problems plaguing their communities, including a lack of public services, institutional racism, and police harassment and repression.

“I believe the gang unit (of the Greensboro Police Department) doesn’t want to see a peace treaty,” Cornell told The Guilfordian.

Cornell, who is called King Jay by members of the ALKQN, has reported repeated police harassment since the announcement of the peace treaty, including serving his girlfriend with a false warrant and threatening to file trespassing charges against Cornell unless he left public property.

“King Jay has been charged twelve times in the last year and none of the charges stuck,” said Rev. Nelson Johnson at a meeting at the Beloved Community Center. Police treatment of blacks and Latinos is one of the primary reasons Cornell founded the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation in Greensboro in the first place. He cites a need for black and brown people to unite, “because of what we endure in our community. The government is what is oppressing us.”

“There is no beef with nobody except the police, and that is not physical, that’s mental,” stated D of the Piru Bloods, who is also involved in the peace process. The ALKQN has been actively involved in supporting a number of different community organizing efforts, including organizing a Black-Brown conference for Oct. 3 and 4 that will focus on building interracial unity. Associate Professor of Justice and Policy Studies Sherry Giles is working alongside Cornell to plan for the conference.

“King Jay and other members of the (ALKQN) have attended every meeting of the steering committee for the conference, and have offered fresh and powerful insights about the forces separating Blacks and Latinos from each other,” Giles said.

In particular, Cornell has “helped to make clear the troubling connections between the local media’s negative and inaccurate portrayal of the Almighty Latin Kings and Queens and efforts to justify the 287G deportation program” that allows local law enforcement to act as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and to deport undocumented immigrants.

According to Cornell, the 287G program perpetuates “another way of slavery” in which Latino immigrants are trapped working for poverty wages under unsafe conditions while living in fear of deportation.

Members of the ALKQN also assert that negative attitudes towards their organization are created through fear of the unknown.

When asked what his message he would like to give to Guilfordian readers, King Junito of the ALKQN said, “Don’t fear what you don’t know. Just because we wear black and gold around our neck doesn’t mean we are criminals. We have morals, we have values. This is our religion: Kingism.”

The ALKQN have received a significant level of community support, most notably from the Nation of Islam and The Pulpit Forum of Greensboro. Unfortunately, leaders in the Jewish and Quaker communities have been almost entirely absent. The Pulpit Forum of Greensboro is planning a mass community meeting for Sept. 21 to screen a video they created to more fully explain the peace agreement and the people behind it. The meeting will be at 4 p.m. at the Saint James Baptist Church on Florida Street in Greensboro. In addition, a permit has been requested for a march on Sept. 27 beginning at 10:30 a.m. at Saint Phillips in support of the peace agreement. For more information, contact the Beloved Community Center at 336-230-0001.

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