Melba Lara: More than 50 people were shot this past holiday weekend in Chicago according to police. That's about the city's average for Memorial Day weekends over the past decade. The bloodshed came despite an influx of government funded anti violence workers. More than 500 workers were out this weekend in 14 different neighborhood's trying to prevent the shootings. Jason Little is an outreach leader for the anti violence organization, Chicago CRED. He spent this past weekend in the North Lawndale neighborhood on the West Side and he joins us now. Jason, thanks for coming in.
Jason Little: Thank you, thank you Melba. Thanks for having me.
Melba Lara: So, I mentioned that we had 500 anti-violence workers on the streets this past holiday weekend. Talk to me about exactly what you guys were doing there to try to prevent bloodshed this weekend.
Jason Little: Yeah. So there were actually 500 plus peacekeepers along with outreach workers. So our flip team is our flatlining violence inspires peace. So we have those guys out. We had outreach out and coordination together. We had a team at Millennium Park on Friday. We also had a team at 31st street beach on Saturday. And we had a flip team at North Avenue Beach yesterday, on Monday, on Memorial Day.
Melba Lara: So when you've got these flip teams, what are they doing? Are they talking to young people or what's going on?
Jason Little: Yeah. So first when we first get there, you know, we sit and we look at the scene so we try to arrive early, so that we can see the layout, see how things are going and then place our teams in places where they can keep walking. Part of it is they don't stops walking. So we automatically, we'll run into teens. If we see a group of teens, then we engage with them. Not to just stop. You know, I don't be down here doing this, don't be... We walk up to them, we shake their hands, how you doing? They might be listening - what's the music you're listening to? And then we start to walk with them and talk with them and now we're starting to build a relationship and then as relationships goes, then that's what happens when we start to engage saying, you know, let's just be peaceful, let's have a good time. And a lot of times even with this weekend, you know, we had no violence downtown.
Melba Lara: Jason, you've talked about the success of preventing violence downtown and on the beaches, but in the places where we did see shootings largely on the South and West Sides. What is the impact of this gun violence on communities and community members?
Jason Little: Yeah. I think, I think it's tough because at the end of the day we look at it as numbers and reductions. But these are people's children. When someone loses a child, it's the most difficult thing that they have to go through. I mean, we spent time with these families after losing children to gun violence in our city and these parents and these families are broken. You have now... You have another generation if they had kids are father or motherless. So it's, it's not, it's not just affected now, but the long term effect of it.
Melba Lara: I want to ask you about Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson. This was his first Memorial Day weekend as mayor, he just took office. What does the mayor need to do in your opinion over the next four years to help bring down shootings?
Jason Little: Well, I don't think it's just the mayor. I think it's all of us, right? You have CPD, you have outreach, you have community stakeholders. And then you have the mayor. I think we all have to do more. I think for me, it's the relentless engagement part. We have to be relentless engaging our young people, our young men or young women in our community. You know, we can have communities where violence might be down. We have a 7% reduction in the city right now. But people don't feel safer. Right? So I think it's just all about us all coming together, not working in silos and doing this thing together as one city.
Melba Lara: I've been speaking with Jason Little, an outreach leader for the anti violence organization, Chicago CRED. Jason, thanks for coming in.
Jason Little: Thank you.
Melba Lara: This is WBEZ.
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