Wilmington’s Cease Violence program is showing positive results after being rolled out more than a year ago.
Cease Violence looks to stop gun shootings at the source. Derrick Chambers joined the program in effort to preach peace in his old neighborhood on the north side of the city where he’s a familiar face to high risk youth.
“Sometimes you got to get through their pride, because they still got street codes that they still hold on to. Earlier on in the program, they really didn’t know what the program was about, but from seeing me there every day, they kind of loosened up,” Chambers said.
Chambers and some of his colleagues frequent only a few crime spots in the city but residents, especially near 6th and Broom Street, welcome them.
“I think it’s very important that they come out here to get the children’s attention, the adult’s attention. You know because we need to cease the violence really. It’s imperative that we do,” said Ursula Anderson who recently made a makeshift memorial for a young man shot and killed feet away from where she lives.
Partnering with Christiana Care Health System, every time there is a shooting in Wilmington, the hospital sends out a text or a call to a Cease Violence mediator. That person will then jump in the car and ride to Christiana to not only encourage the victim or victim’s family from retaliating but also help high risk youth enroll in school or to help the individual seek employment.
Many of the mediators in the program feel they’re a perfect fit for the job because they can speak from experience.
“Well, about twelve, fourteen months ago I got out of prison and I wanted to do something different for my life. I was a drug dealer for a long time. And three or four years before I got out of prison, I changed my mind set and I said to myself, I don’t want to be a part of the problem no more, I want to be a part of the solution,” said Ronald Brown.
To date more than two dozen young people have been helped through Cease Violence and the list continues to grow.
“I was young, reckless, running with the wrong guys, got in a mix up, got locked up things like that. Once I got older, once I hit 18, was going back and forth since 18, so now I’m 23. I lost family members to gun violence, friends to gun violence, friends to jail, family to jail so ever since I got into the program, things have been awesome,” said Chris Mitchell.
Although the program seems to have reached more young men in the streets, high risk youth include both men and women.
At the same time, each week members of Cease Violence come together to discuss a number of ways to promote peace, canvas high crime areas, mediate conflicts and provide survivor support. The job may present challenges but to this group they’re determined to tackle one thing.
“The main thing we’re trying to do in the city of Wilmington is interrupt violence and change the culture. Because if you can get to the main source it’s like a domino effect,” Brown said.
Wilmington’s Cease Violence program is modeled after the national anti-violence initiative “Cure Violence”.