Local man brings awareness to gun violence through basketball
Drum rolls echo inside the Collin Powell gym while dancers move to the beat. It’s a community demonstration against violence in Minneapolis Saturday morning.
Bobby Brown, the co-founder of “Beyond the Court” says the annual event has been going on since 1998.
“Our mission is to eliminate gun violence in our community,” said Brown. “This has just been something that’s been really near and dear to our hearts to avoid people from going through what we.”
On July 15, 1997, Brown, his two older sisters, and his 10-month-old niece became victims of a drive-by shooting in Minneapolis, MN. The incident left Bobby, then 15 years old, with a spinal cord injury from a single bullet and his eldest sister survived being shot twice in her legs with a handgun.
The act of violence and Bobby’s love of sports inspired the Brown family to start a nonprofit “Beyond the Court” to raise awareness about the effects of violence as well as to share their story of hope with other inner-city youth.
Bobby Brown’s “Beyond the Court” Violence Prevention Initiatives has reached thousands of youth and continues to share messages through innovative youth programming.
Through presentations by law enforcement and other community leaders, youth are empowered to make positive decisions for their lives in order to have a positive impact on their families and community.
“I know that we can do things about gun violence, we can eliminate it, we can decrease it,” he said.
Brown says speakers expose the ill effects of gun violence with the goal of shifting the behavior and attitudes of the youth participants so they will be able to understand the big picture. Public health officials, law enforcement, trauma center nurse(s), and mental health professional(s) are on hand to assist throughout the day.
Youth participants are encouraged to develop alternative methods when faced with conflict that do not involve violence. Whether it’s dancing or basketball, organizers say there’s power to getting kids involved in activities that give them a positive outlet.
“When kids have something positive to do, they’re more likely to go on a pathway that is also positive and will be contributors to society,” said Benny Roberts with Urban Ventures.