The National Urban Peace and Justice Summit sessions were closed to the media--both because of a longstanding hostility felt by most participants over the media's coverage of urban issues and gang-related activities, but also out of a desire to conduct serious deliberations without the glare and distortion of camera lights. Sojourners editor Jim Wallis was one of a number of people invited by the organizers to participate as observers/advisers.
- The Editors
It was an "altar call" unlike any you've ever seen. Two young men from rival street gangs--one a Crip and one a Blood--came together at the pulpit in St. Stephen's Baptist Church. The two confessed they had been trying to kill each other for more than a year. And then the enemy gang members "dropped their colors" at the pulpit and embraced each other, tears in their eyes.
From now on, they said, they would walk the same road together. Enough killing--it was time for a new beginning. For a gang member to drop a kerchief or piece of clothing with their gang's colors is a momentous thing. One can be killed for such an act. But it was not the only momentous thing that occurred in Kansas City during the weekend of April 29 to May 2.
From a "truce" that began between the Crips and the Bloods in Los Angeles several months before that city's 1992 spring rebellion, a "truce movement" had begun to spread in other cities across the country. Before long, connections were made between the various "gang peace" efforts and a kindred spirit began to grow. Carl Upchurch, a former felon turned peace and justice activist, went on the road to help build the connections and the idea of a national "Gang Summit" was born.