Stop the Violence team, We Matter hosts an open mic night to encourage positive community ties in Norfolk

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Stop the Violence (STVT) partnered with We Matter, a community outreach team, to host an open mic in Norfolk on Saturday night.

Event planners hope that by providing this avenue of positive expression, people will find a different way to channel their emotions instead of leaning into the cycle of gun violence.

Participants were able to perform their rap, poetry and music in front of others. Although few people attended, nearly seventy people attended the event.

Latisha Riddick, president of We Matter, said tonight’s goal is to help children begin to heal from possible trauma.

“The stereotype is that every kid here is a gang member and they’re bad kids because of where they live or maybe the way they dress,” Riddick said. “It isn’t. Just because you dress a certain way doesn’t make you a bad kid, or just because you act like a bad kid. Maybe it’s because of it. the trauma you are going through because of the neighborhood you live in.

Riddick hopes his We Matter organization will continue to host events like this every month.

“We’re not here once just to introduce ourselves,” Riddick added. “We’re always going to keep coming here to let you know that you have a team that truly loves you and we want to make sure you grow in the right way.”

Bilal Muhammad, an STVT leader, told 10 On Your Side that events like this won’t completely stop everyone from using violence as a response, but it’s a start.

“They are looking at us to lead them in a better direction,” Muhammad said.

Last weekend Muhammad responded to a homicide on Madison Avenue in Norfolk in the hopes of helping locals come together and have a frank conversation about the violence in their neighborhood.

It was not Muhammad’s first time in the region. He was trying to have this same conversation in July with the community after four children, aged 6 to 16, were shot dead.

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