370 Community-Based Mediators Working at 72 Gun Violence “Hot Spots” For Extended Hours During Memorial Day Weekend

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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.”

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