In an effort to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the African-American community, members from diverse organizations came together for the 1st Annual $10K Tournament. Organized by Brandon Hanks and the Syracuse Housing Authority, the inaugural tournament tipped off at 10:00 AM on the South side of Syracuse at Wilson Park on July 31, 2021.
Not only was this a basketball tournament bringing the community together, but it was also an attempt by the Syracuse Police Department to establish a long lasting relationship with a community that often does not trust police.
Brandon Hanks, 29, organizer of the event and Syracuse police officer shared, “I want to bring the youth together, the community together, keep everybody out of trouble, show everybody there is positivity in this city and that you can communicate with police officers because a lot of us are here to help you. We can all come together without violence.”
The topic of violence has been circulating throughout the city of Syracuse; in an attempt to get guns off the street, the city hosted a gun buyback in downtown Syracuse last weekend.
Clifford Ryan, 58, a member of OG’s Against Gun Violence, profoundly stated that the “OG’s” in the organization’s name does not stand for Original Gangsters; instead, it means “Our Generation.” Ryan believes that events like this are a testament to the guidance of an older generation trying to instill community togetherness into the youth. One can say that such events were a vision that elders in the communities always envisioned, and it’s finally coming to life.
The tournament consisted of five teams: a blue team, a yellow team, an orange team, a pink team, and a green team. The winner of each game would advance to the next round eliminating the losing team from contention. The winners of the tournament would then split the $10,000 prize amongst their teammates.
James Walker, 23, MVP and member of the winning team, explained that “events like this bring the community together especially after COVID. We needed this.”
The reality of successfully coming out of a pandemic is not likely in most maligned communities. “Efforts as such provide speculation to a life without problems,” said Phoenix Thomas.
In attendance was Mayor Ben Walsh, the Syracuse Fire Department, the Syracuse Police Department, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., and many more.The presence of such organizations was more than recruitment but to demonstrate to the youth the endless paths one can take in life. The event was sponsored by Upstate University Hospital.
“This community is resilient; it’s a bunch of good people here who want to make an impact,” said Aarick Knighton, an alumni of Syracuse University and the current campaign manager for Syracuse Mayor, Ben Walsh.
The inspiration for the tournament came about when Brandon Hanks challenged inner city youth to one on one basketball games, and if they won, he would buy them a pair of sneakers.The most expensive pair of sneakers Hanks bought were a $250 pair of Jordans, which hurts him each time he thinks about it. However, Hanks saw a bigger opportunity to create a tournament in which 300 people would partake. Hank’s intention was to deliver a message that it is possible for the police and Black community to work together and forge a bond.
Generational guidance as well as an attempt to build a better and safer Syracuse was on display by Brandon Hanks and Syracuse Housing Authority’s community members. The prize of $10,000 was increased to $20,000 for next year’s event by Syracuse’s Police Chief, Kenton Buckner.
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