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Local group pushes even harder after death of co-founder 5/14

The back of a t-shirt displays the logo of "Rumble Kings"
Mike Desmond
Lloyd "Lightning" Murphy worked with actor Jim Carrey to produce the documentary "Rumble Kings."

Buffalo is aware of gun violence in a way it may never have been before, with the massacre of 10 people May 14 outside a Tops market on Jefferson Avenue.

One of those killed was Katherine “Kat” Massey, a founder of the social justice group We Are Women Warriors.

In February, the group had started a year-long program to find solutions to the gun violence problem, with citizens to vote late this year on whichsolutions they thought were the best.

Special Projects Facilitator Sherry Sherrill said gun violence is a core problem in the richest country on Earth.

“Gun violence is a problem in every single category of human society. So we're hoping that the United States, at the federal level, is going to place eradication of gun violence, certainly mitigation of gun-related homicides and murders and suicides, at the top of their priority list and the funding list, so that we can get as many programs and as many effective interventions in place,” she said.

The particular focus at Thursday evening's forum was gang violence, a traditional problem.

Three men sitting at a table. One is speaking into a microphone.
Mike Desmond

Pastor Tim Newkirk was part of a gang when he was young, in the Jefferson and Goodyear area of Buffalo.

“It was based on dancing and being in the crew, because there was an end of the '70s movement, The Truth, when all the gangs, the Pythons, Matadors, the Allahturks, all the gangs in the war, in the Vietnam," Newkirk said. "So a lot of them came back and they were strung out on drugs or alcohol.”

There was one different point of view at the event at the Merriweather Library from Lloyd “Lightning” Murphy.

He’s a one-time Olympic boxer and street gang member from the Bronx, involved in the movie “The Rubble Kings.” That documentary dealt with an event in the Bronx in 1971, when 40 gangs signed a treaty ending their wars and they stopped.

Murphy said they shifted to music and “birthed” hip-hop, suggesting it can happen, but he said there is the core issue of being poor.

“Poverty, in my estimation, is not just," he said. "We don't have resources, but we don't have hope. Because when you don't have hope, then you start doing things that you really shouldn't be doing because you don't have hope. Hopelessness can cause you to live a life that you really shouldn't be living just because you are hopeless.”

Ultimately, Murphy said, the armistice fell apart because of that really successful music, people began fighting over divvying it up.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.