Activist seeks community support for basketball league to counter gang violence in Jersey City
Community activist Dwayne Baskerville is seeking the support of Jersey City residents for his basketball league to counter gang violence within the city.
Some may see basketball as nothing but a game, but to Dwayne Baskerville the sport is an opportunity for gang-affiliated youth to settle their differences on the court.
Baskerville, of Go Get My Kids INC. and a lifelong resident of Jersey City, spoke about the origins of his league and the positive impact he’s seen it have on the community.
“In 2006 we had some incidents where our youth were shooting and killing each other every day for about three weeks” according to Baskerville.
“I decided to get involved and I approached one of our youth in Booker T. [Washington] Projects and asked him if they rather shoot each other or play basketball?”
After providing the youth with a testimony of how he nearly died fifty times, Baskerville said the young man told him “if someone came down here now and shot somebody we couldn’t tell you why because we’ve been doing it for so long we don’t even know why anymore.”
According to Baskerville, the young man spoke with his friends following the conversation and they decided they rather play basketball – setting off a chain reaction where youth from rival gangs in the city decided to “peace it out” and play basketball than shoot each other, leading to “105 days of peace.”
Baskerville said the league was “pretty successful” up until 2013 when it began to face financial challenges, and that he sees a correlation between the league’s troubles and an escalation of youth violence in Jersey City.
“We’ve noticed that since the league has been down that the violence in our community is starting to escalate again.”
Some of the parks and housing projects which Baskerville plans to be a part of the league include: Pavonia Park, Hamilton Park, Pershing Field, Bayside Park, Marion Gardens, Booker T. Washington, Holland Gardens, Curries Woods, Lincoln Park, Armstrong Park, and Lafayette Park.
Baskerville said he’s focused on “getting in front of the violence that we anticipate having to try to keep the peace in Jersey City. We feel that everyone who lives in Jersey City is at-risk and we feel that everyone who cares will be glad to participate.”
Finally, Baskerville said those that wish to help can come to Lincoln Park on April 4th, 2015 – barring inclement weather – or reach out to the Jersey City Recreation Fund, or contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Go Get My Kids Facebook page.
“Any child here in Jersey City who would be interested in participating, or any parent or anyone whose interested in helping us keep the peace in Jersey City and keeping our kids busy, is more than welcome to come participate.”