"Rock The Community" aims to improve relations between police an - KMOV.com

"Rock The Community" aims to improve relations between police and youth

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Many came out for "Rock the Community" event at Kiener Plaza on Sunday. (Credit: KMOV) Many came out for "Rock the Community" event at Kiener Plaza on Sunday. (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

Kiener Plaza was packed with kids and police on Sunday in an effort to bridge the gap between the two in an event called "Rock The Community." The event was free and anyone under the age of 18 was able to eat for free and get free hair cuts. 

Although this event was for the kids, it was also by the kids with live performances from rappers, singers and dancers all under the age of 18. "I make my own music in my room, so that's what I'll be doing today," said Josh Royal, a 17 year old singer. "I love bringing joy to other people. I love seeing their faces. Knowing that St. Louis is known for being bad, like we're a bad city, and I love giving St. Louis a great name."

"Rock the Community" was put on as a chance to place bring kids and police on the same playing field. "In order to heal our community, there has to be a conversation," said Rita Renee, the organizer for "Rock the Community."

Renee hopes personal relationships with police and kids can start developing now. "When I was growing up, the police officers knew our names. They knew who our parents were. We've got to get back to that. We've got to get back to the basics," said Renee.

Getting back to the basics is what Lewis Reed, president of the board of aldermen, believes is the real solution to stopping violence in St. Louis. "You have to have more trust between the community and the police department, which is what this event begins to do," said Reed.

In addition, Reed is also pushing for more money in the budget for youth programs and improving recreation centers. "Our rec centers across the city need major upgrades to them. If we want the kids to go there and have organized play, we need to invest in those rec centers," said Reed.

City leaders and event organizers hopes that experiencing this event's entertainment and free fun will draw kids to more positive activities, instead of believing crime is cool.

"You don't have to be like them. You can do your own thing and still be important because you are important," said Royal.

This is the first of three "Rock the Community" events this summer. Other opportunities provided at this event are resources for youth employment and mental health. 

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