Ronell Bailey got the idea to start a grassroots initiative to stop gun violence in Kansas City from a movie — Barbershop: The Next Cut.
In the third installment of the Barbershop series, salon owner Calvin Palmer Jr., played by Ice Cube, gives away free haircuts to the community during a weekend-long “ceasefire” to curb violence in the neighborhood.
After Bailey finished watching the movie, he turned on the news and saw coverage of a couple of shootings in Kansas City. Bailey decided to create Operation Ceasefire KC, a weekend-long effort to stop gun violence.
“These type of events, especially on Friday and Saturday brings out the family and it brings them to a safe environment, something that’s positive that we’re lacking in our community,” Bailey says.
There have been 66 homicides this year, according to data from the Kansas City Police Department. There were a couple shootings during the weekend in 2016 and 2017 when the initiative was in effect. Bailey said he hopes this year there won’t be any shootings.
Aim4Peace operations manager Erica Taylor says neighborhood outreach events can be an effective way to engage a community. Aim4Peace works to reduce shootings and homicides through a public health approach. It is not affiliated with Operation Ceasefire KC.
“In communities where there is strong community mobilization — where neighbors know each other, they know each others kids and things like that — it’s been shown to reduce shootings,” Taylor says.
The kickoff event is a free gospel concert 8 p.m. Friday at United Believers Community Church. Saturday from noon to four there will be a field day with free food and games at the church. On Sunday, there will be a couple of barbershops giving free haircuts.
Aviva Okeson-Haberman is a KCUR news intern. Follow her on Twitter @avivaokeson.