Hip-hop mogul, Michael Williams, has managed the careers of artists such as OutKast and Cee-lo Green, but he’s now looking to make a difference by taking guns off New York City Streets. Williams has pitched the city’s first private-sector gun buyback program to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
The Guns For Greatness Buyback Program will use concert tickets and mentorship opportunities as incentives to those individuals willing to turn in their firearms. Williams’ written proposal outlined the goals of his program. “This program aims to provide young people with an opportunity to receive guidance and inspiration from committed mentors, an important option that will enable them to experience possibilities other than a life surrounded by gun violence and unnecessary shootings and killing,” the letter reads.
Hot 97 radio, the International House of Pancakes and several record labels, including Polo Grounds Music and Primary Wave Music, have signed on as partners in the program. Williams has huge aspirations when it comes to finding entertainers to partner with.
“The Beyoncé show is coming to Brooklyn; the Jay-Z show is coming to Yankee Stadium. Our goal is to reach out to individuals who are in my industry, in my world and who I have an association with and get their support,” Williams, 43, said Monday.
So far Williams has raised $75,000 for the program is working to boost that figure to $100,000. He hopes to launch the program on March 23 at a church in Brooklyn. Commissioner Kelly is interested in the program, but also stresses that police would have to be involved.
“You need police officers present. You’d need the expertise,” Kelly said.
Williams is no stranger to gun incidents. Last year he lost his business partner, Chris Lighty, from a self-inflicted gunshot death in August. He called his own arrest for bringing a gun registered in Georgia but not in New York through LaGuardia airport, an eye-opening experience.
“It was just sort of like a pushing point,” Williams said. “It eventually convinced me that one person can make a difference if they believe in something.”