In tense times Houston rappers pledge to promote peace, justice

- In their art, there is power. In their music, there is persuasion.

"These rappers are the voice of the streets," said community activist Deric Muhammad.

At a time when killings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge have torn the already tenuous bonds of trust the tone of Hip Hop lyrics can light new fires or tamp-down the tension that threatens Houston's streets.

"You can be pro-black and be pro-cop at the same time. The two do intersect," said well known Houston rapper Willie D.

They choose peace.

Renowned Rapper Willie D and a host of local artists offered Mayor Sylvester Turner their support with a united pledge to fight racial injustice and the violence that too often follows.

"We are all on the same page. We all have the same objective which is to stop the violence that's going on in our communities and create an atmosphere of respect instead of discontent with our law enforcement," said Willie D.

"We don't want to wait until there are riots in the streets 'til we do this. Let's do this now. Let's be proactive about it," said Paul Wall, another nationally known Houston Hip Hop artist.

"We've got to find a way to save some lives and the cry today is going to be - no more bloodshed, no more bloodshed," said Muhammed, who helped set up the summit.

In return, Turner listened hard to the artists' concerns, including the urgent call for more economic opportunity and the controversial request for cops to racially reflect the communities of color they patrol.

"There are a lot of people in our city who've lost hope. People are feeling helpless and people are feeling disrespected and these people here, these artists, have collectively more power than I do," said Turner who has repeatedly urged citizens to tone down rhetoric involving race and police relations.

It is "power" the artists chose to project with immediate, meaningful  action - gathering at Black owned Unity Bank to collectively open individual accounts and issue a challenge to rappers across the nation.

"Don't talk about it, be about it. Go take your money right now and put your money in a Black bank right now," said Willie D.

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