Ameena Matthews: Making a Peaceful Difference on the Streets of Chicago

I was fortunate to be in my car when Ameena Matthews was interviewed on “Fresh Air,” the on-air home of NPR’s extraordinary Terry Gross. The subject was The Interrupters, a new documentary by the maker of Oscar-winning Hoop Dreams. But the best part of it is the interview of Ms. Matthews, whose dangerous work the documentary features. Formerly a gang member herself, she is now a “violence interrupter” working on the south side of Chicago.

The men and women [] known as “violence interrupters”[] work with an organization called CeaseFire, which operates under the assumption that violence moves through a city in the same way that an infectious disease moves through the body. To fix crime, says the organization, violence needs to be stopped at the source.

But there’s a problem: “Not just anybody can come in and tell a guy to put his gun down,” says CeaseFire’s director Tio Hardiman, in a scene from The Interrupters, a new documentary about the group. “Most of the violence interrupters come from the hierarchy in some of these gangs. [And they] have one goal in mind: to stop killings. They’re not trying to dismantle gangs. What they’re trying to do is save a life.”

If you would like to learn more about the challenges of raising children amid the violence endemic in parts of the American urban landscape, you won’t find a better or more moving introduction to the subject than this. Highly recommended. (Podcast available here.)

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About Guy N. Texas

Guy N. Texas is the pen name of a lawyer living in Dallas, who is now a liberal. He was once conservative, but this word has so morphed in meaning that he can no longer call himself that in good conscience. Guy has no political aspirations. He speaks only for himself.
This entry was posted in Crime, Poverty, Urban America. Bookmark the permalink.

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