CHARLOTTE, N.C. — You may start to notice new billboards popping up across Charlotte alongside some of the popular roadways you drive each day. It’s part of a Stop the Violence campaign organized by the 100 Black Men of Greater Charlotte who say they not only want to mentor, but also save young African American lives.
The 20 different billboards can be found near I-85, I-77, and anywhere in between. They’ll stay posted up until at least mid-June and organizers say this is just Phase 1 of their Stop the Violence campaign.
“We want the entire community aware this campaign is going on,” Jonathan Hill, spokesperson for 100 Black Men of Greater Charlotte, said.
With the help of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the campaign not only focuses on areas that have been identified with heavy crime but also spreads to other neighborhoods across the city.
A similar billboard campaign proved to be popular back in 1993 as well when the Queen City saw an all-time high of 129 murders in a single year. In 2020, the city saw 123 homicides.
The goal now is to not have a repeat of this deadly trend.
“Coming off the heels of 2020 such a tragic time and then you couple that with us coming into the summer of 2021 -- having relaxed restrictions at least we anticipate that from COVID -- there’s a potential for that just to be a powder keg,” Hill said.
After the billboards, the next step of the campaign is to reach out to anti-violence resources within the city, county and community groups. The biggest emphasis is finding methods to de-escalate and help save lives.
“Arguments that ended in death so if we can get to something as simple as a great conflict resolution,” Hill said.
Finally, the 100 Black Men of Greater Charlotte plan to host a series of community panels throughout the year to start a conversation and get engagement towards finding gun violence solutions. The first panel is on April 1.