Over the past few years, the “Peace Rides,” as they are now known, have grown from dozens to hundreds of riders and drivers at a time, crisscrossing gang territories and extending 100 square miles to communities from Compton to Lancaster. On each ride, the likes of the Black Stallions, East Side Riders Bike Club and National Lowriders carry The Way to Happiness and its constructive message into parks, alleyways and malls—wherever the people are.
Watching members of rival gangs, predominantly the Bloods and the Crips, who have battled for turf on these streets for decades and were the most significant participants, caused one L.A. broadcaster to intone, “Hell has frozen over.” Gang interventionists, the families of those in the crossfire of gang violence, community activists and community members have all shown a growing interest in the Peace Rides, which have enjoyed the support of high-profile city and entertainment leaders, from will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas and popular radio host Big Boy, to L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Eric Garcetti.
In the words of Nation of Islam Minister Tony Muhammad, the first ride “… was like the cracking of an atom. It sparked something in everybody. It sparked the spirit of hope that once again we’re at a pivotal point in our history and we can make a difference in our own community.” Captain Lee Sands, Commanding Officer of the South Traffic Division, joined hands with Peace Riders to say a prayer.
Before the August ride, more than 10,000 copies of The Way to Happiness were mailed to households in Watts along with a letter and flier proclaiming, “The Peace Rides are coming to your neighborhood.”
Measurable results inspire ever more community activism around The Way to Happiness. In this instance, a 51 percent drop in crime over three consecutive weeks immediately followed the rides.