Violence Prevention Organizations Reflect on 2020 Gun Violence Surge
Call for Increased Funding in Outreach and Community Approaches to Public Safety
Three leading violence prevention groups in Chicago came together today for a Zoom press conference to reflect on 2020’s surge in gun violence and to call for increased investment in community-based approaches to improving public safety.
Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P), READI Chicago and Chicago CRED all participated in today’s press conference, where they both acknowledged the progress of the last three years in reducing gun violence has stalled even as their programs show results.
Vaughn Bryant, Executive Director of CP4P and Metropolitan Peace Initiatives, works with more than a dozen community-based groups in Chicago intervening directly in gang disputes, providing direct support services, and steering young people out of lives of crime. He said “our partners are making a difference and we have to take the long view. Change is rarely a straight line but rather a series of ups and downs on our way to the desired outcome.”
“For a host of reasons—COVID, the economy, the George Floyd protests and ongoing systemic oppression—tensions are running very high and that’s driving up the number of shootings. We also know that our outreach programs are reaching the young people most at risk and guiding them away from crime. We just need to do more of it and sustain the effort long term,” Bryant said.
Bryant cited research from Northwestern University showing that CP4P groups contributed to the drop in gun violence between 2016 and 2019. Specifically, the study identifies, “a decline in gun violence beyond what might be predicted from historical patterns.”
Eddie Bocanegra, the Executive Director of READI Chicago, which engages adult men in an intensive program to help them cope with trauma resulting from significant exposure to violence, and develop skills that create pathways to safety and opportunity, cited early analysis data from the University of Chicago Crime Lab that indicates a considerable reduction in gun violence victimization among participants.
“Early results show that the guys in our program are remaining engaged and that they are less likely to shoot or be shot than peers in their same communities. These are among the highest-risk individuals in the city. If we had sufficient funding, we could expand access to READI Chicago. We know that doing so would make our neighborhoods safer,” Bocanegra said.
Arne Duncan from Chicago CRED shared several data points supporting their case for more investment in violence prevention programs. According to the City of Chicago’s violence reduction dashboard, fatal and non-fatal shootings are up by about 50% citywide in the first eight months of 2020 compared to the same time last year.
However, in two adjacent South Side neighborhoods, Roseland and Pullman, where CRED has heavily invested in outreach, therapy, life-coaching, education, job training and placement, fatal shootings are down by 33 percent and 50 percent respectively. In both neighborhoods, the rate of non-fatal shootings is way below the citywide average.
“If we had the resources to invest in every community the way we have invested in Roseland, we could begin to bring down the gun violence to levels that are comparable to other big cities like New York and Los Angeles. Police can’t do it alone. The answer is in the community,” Duncan said.
Jalon Arthur, CRED Director of Strategic Initiatives, shared data from the FLIP (Flatlining Violence Inspires Peace) Program, which has recruited about 350 people to intervene in gang-related tensions and create a safe presence in 77 hot spots spread across 12 Chicago neighborhoods.
FLIP workers typically work afternoons through early morning hours. CRED has tracked 395 separate mediations and 22 non-aggression agreements negotiated by FLIP workers. When they are present at the hot spots, gun violence incidents have dropped almost to zero, said Arthur.
“There are many more hot spots than we can cover, but when our FLIP workers are there, negotiating non-aggression agreements and mediating disputes, we’re saving lives,” Arthur said.
Duncan said that the organizations are grateful to the City of Chicago for investing $11M this year in violence prevention. He also saluted Cook County for investing $5M in violence prevention. But Duncan pointed out that local and state governments are still spending billions on public safety, prosecutions and prisons while most of the violence prevention programs are privately funded.
“Violence prevention is barely a rounding error in our public safety budgets. It’s long past time to begin shifting resources from over-policing, prosecutions and prisons and give many more young people a real chance in life through these kinds of programs. Chicago can lead the nation if we start to think and act differently,” Duncan said.
While recognizing that the city faces enormous budget challenges, the groups have called for $50M in city funding as well as major investments in state funding. A coalition of nurses and activists also called on Cook County last week to shift $157M in public safety dollars into community programs.
For More Information:
PETER CUNNINGHAM, CHICAGO CRED
BRIDGET HATCH, METROPOLITAN FAMILY SERVICES
PHONE: (312) 579-6541
MAILEE GARCIA, HEARTLAND ALLIANCE
CAA hosted a special CAA Amplify virtual Town Hall on June 17th, focusing on dismantling systemic racism in business and culture. The event brought together executives from leading organizations in entertainment, sports, media, brands, technology, and social justice in a call to action to end the systemic racism that has consistently oppressed black people.
Watch the conversation between Arne Duncan and Carmelo Anthony (NBA All-Star, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist) HERE.
370 Community-Based Mediators Working at 72 Gun Violence “Hot Spots” For Extended Hours During Memorial Day Weekend
Click here to watch the press conference.
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A coalition of organizations working to reduce gun violence will have an additional 370 community-based mediators and street intervention workers working overtime during the holiday weekend at 72 “hot spot” locations across 12 Chicago neighborhoods. Chicago CRED and Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P) called this, “One of the largest violence prevention efforts in Chicago’s history,” during an online press conference with outreach workers.
CP4P represents a coalition of community groups working in 23 Chicago neighborhoods to reduce gun violence. CP4P Executive Director Vaughn Bryant says the “hot spot” strategy can help contain this year’s surge in gun violence. Year-to-date, fatal shooting are up 13 percent and non-fatal shootings are up 24 percent over 2019, according to the City dashboard.
“We know where the tensions are high, and we know that direct interventions from trusted friends and neighbors can help deescalate conflicts. These young men and women are using their experience and their relationships to make their communities safer and we should all be grateful,” Bryant said.
Chicago CRED helps steer young people at risk into the legal economy by offering street outreach, life coaching, therapy, job training, and financial support. Chicago CRED Founder Arne Duncan said, “For three years, gun violence in Chicago has been steadily declining and we’re doing everything possible to keep moving in that direction. The courageous young men and women doing this work are a big part of the solution.”
The “hot spot” program, which is also called FLIP (Flatlining Violence Inspires Peace), employs participants in violence prevention programs as mediators to help deescalate conflicts and create a community presence. They have also been cross-trained to provide public health information related to COVID-19.
The program began in 2018 at 21 sites in three communities, expanded to 55 sites in 8 communities in 2019, and is now targeting 72 sites in 12 South and West Side communities: Austin, West Garfield Park, East Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, Little Village, Englewood, West Englewood, Roseland, Greater Grand Crossing, West Pullman and Back of the Yards.
The FLIP program launched a month earlier this year than in past years, starting in late-April in some communities and is expected to run all summer and into the fall if funding is available. The total cost of the program is approximately $2.7 million.
Jalon Arthur, CRED Director of Strategic Initiatives, oversees the “hot spot” strategy implemented by seasoned CP4P and CRED partners: INVC, ALSO, Breakthrough, UCAN, New Life, Target, Acclivus, and CRED. He believes this strategy contributed to drops in gun violence during the last couple of summers but acknowledges this is, “One strategy among many that are collectively working to transform communities over time, and the impact in 2020 remains to be seen.”
In light of the COVID-19 social distancing and stay-at-home directives, we have been gifted the opportunity to engage our participants in real and interactive virtual conversations with celebrities, experts, influencers, industry leaders and more. As such, we are producing a series of interesting, informative, entertaining and engaging Virtual Interactive Interviews we are calling “CREDTALKS."
Click the links below to watch:
Caron Butler is a former NBA player for the Miami Heat, LA Lakers, Washington Wizards, Dallas Mavericks, and LA Clippers to name a few. Butler is a two-time NBA All-Star and was the 2002 Big East Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Year.
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Dr. Omar Lateef, CEO of Rush University Medical Center & Dr. Khalilah Gates, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care and Medical Education at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.
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Real Redemption: From Life Sentence to Life Saving with CRED Life Coach, Father of Englewood's own "Lil Dirk" and Former Life Sentenced Inmate, Dontay Banks.
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A Mother's Love, Loss, and Legacy: Stephanie Brown, a mom turned Violence Prevention Activist after the senseless murder of her son (Darius Brown) at the hands of a drive-by shooter on a basketball court.
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NBA All-Star Luol Deng talks NBA, Philanthropy, and Chicago.
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Arne Duncan and Dale Erquiaga Op Ed in USA Today
Men from Chicago CRED recently participated in the ConTextos Chicago Project, an intensive writing program that incorporates peaceful conflict resolution with the power of personal memoir writing. The authors learned to “read as writers” as they authored powerful memoirs, engaged in constant conversation with their peers to learn how to disagree peacefully and give positive feedback, and finally publish their work in the form of beautifully illustrated books. These stories will be used to create conversations that build empathy with families, teachers, the community and others.
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