Mayor Announces "Stop The Violence Day"



Sarasota Mayor Willie Shaw has declared June 12 Sarasota’s official “Stop the Violence Day” following an event held Sunday of the same name. Organized by internet radio station STLR Media and hosted in Payne Park, more than 300 attendees gathered for the first annual Stop the Violence Day to condemn the use of violence and promote community-based solutions and responsibility in what Shaw describes as “a powerful way to heal, transform and empower our lives. [To] reduce victimization to build a mutual sense of responsibility in our neighborhood, our communities and nation.”

With food provided by local restaurants such as BBQ Boyz and Solorzano’s Pizzeria and national brands like Tropicana and Nature’s Own sponsoring, Sarasota supporters gathered for the free cookout, while STLR organizers presented family-friendly and anti-violence music from STLR artists including Dirt Broke, DJ AK and SOTA. STLR’s previous anti-violence campaign, “Guns Down,” saw similar artists convene and record an album dedicated to the sentiment. “Being a hip hop-oriented radio station, we feel a need and a calling to make sure that people are educated about violence and anti-violence, especially with regards to prejudice,” says STLR artist and official audio mixer Christopher Wanta, who also performed under the name Anything But Broke. “Violence just begets more violence.”

While the event gained resonance in the wake of Sunday morning’s mass shooting in Orlando, the organization says the event was previously scheduled and the timing coincidental. Still, the tragedy made its presence known at the event. “It changed the demeanor; it changed the focus,” says Wanta. But there was also a catalyzing effect, he adds. “When we woke up to that, it was a sign that we were doing the right thing. Everyone that was a part of this got really serious.”

In the wake of Shaw’s pronunciation, Wanta reports that Stop the Violence Day will become an annual STLR event, hosted in Payne Park each year. This year STLR organizers gave away bicycles in an attempt to get neighborhood kids outside, active and in their community instead of in front of the TV, and, according to Wanta, although STLR is a profit-seeking business it will continue similar community investment down the line. Says Wanta: "We don’t see there being a conflict of interest when it comes to being a business and making money and taking care of and looking out for your community.”

Pictured: Mayor Willie Shaw with STLR organizers and supporters. Photo by World Watcher.

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