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For decades, inner-city gangs have plagued communities. Many have presented solutions, but few of them have proved successful. However, we may have reached a breakthrough.

Several conflict-mediation organizations, run by formerly incarcerated felons in urban areas around the country, are lending their wisdom to communities with heavy gang violence. Two such organizations are Operation Safe Streets in Baltimore and CeaseFire Chicago, which have members who work as buffers between rival gangs in urban communities. Because of their own troubled backgrounds, these gang interventionists garner the attention and respect of at-risk-youths who are often involved in violent activity.

The Interrupters, showing in select cities and premiering on PBS in early 2012, is a documentary by Steve James that chronicles the lives of several gang interventionists as they work to quell violence in urban areas. Hopefully, officials in communities facing violent crime can learn a lesson from what the interrupters have to offer.


The mediators or interrupters will often intercede in arguments at the early stages between rival gangs before the conflict escalates. Tard Carter, an Operation Safe Streets violence interrupter, told about a recent incident during which he stopped a young man from killing another during an argument. After three stints in prison for drug and gun charges, Carter, 34, spends time sharing his stories with young people in the neighborhood. The personal interactions help Carter win their trust, hopefully allowing teens to open up about their own circumstances and avoid violence.

Read more on The Interrupters at

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