It is time to make the skateboard park in Williams Lake a safe place, said lakecity hip-hop artist Travis Anthony.
“Two of my friends and I have wanted to hold a BMX and skateboard jam in the park for a long time to raise awareness, but with all the unnecessary violence going on in this community we decided to do something now,” the 24 year old said Thursday.
Anthony and his friends, Shaun McDonald and James Wyborn, are co-ordinating a Stop the Violence Peace Rally, BMX and skateboard jam and community barbecue, taking place on Saturday, March 26 from 3 to 6:30 p.m. at the skateboard park.
“We think if the community can discuss peaceful ways to prevent incidents like the one last week where the boy’s bike was stolen at gunpoint, we can find solutions that are better than the radical GPS technology being discussed by our city,” Anthony said.
Anthony grew up in Williams Lake with Wyborn and attended Marie Sharpe Elementary School.
He lived in the housing development at 605 Carson Drive and hung out at the skateboard park all the time, he said.
Violence at the park was an every day thing when he was a kid, he said.
“I was jumped and robbed of bikes and skateboards. It was something we wanted to address but at 12 or 15 felt like no one wanted to listen.”
Now that they are adults Anthony said they are hoping they can make a difference.
As a hip-hop artist Anthony performs under the name of Young Catalyst.
In response to the recent escalating violence in Williams Lake he has written a song titled Balance for the People.
“A lot of people in Williams Lake are quick to point the finger and judge the Aboriginal community when it comes to violent crime,” he said. “It’s not fair because it’s not a race thing. Anybody is capable of unnecessary violence. Often people act out because of mental illness and situations at home. Everybody has a history.”
Anthony believes strongly that skateboard parks need to be a safe place for youth.
He’s even started an online petition calling for increased security at the skate park.
He said more surveillance cameras might help but they won’t prevent unnecessary violence for youth at risk.
All proceeds from the barbecue will go to the Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre to ensure there are more opportunities for youth to express their creativity, Anthony said.