Gun violence is the leading cause of death for young people in the United States and disproportionately impacts Black and Hispanic/Latino American children, youth, and young adults.
Community-based violence prevention (CVI) programs are proven to reduce gun violence and improve outcomes for those most at risk of perpetrating or experiencing gun violence. At the core of these programs are credible messengers with relatable lived experiences, who build trust and relationships needed to mediate and prevent conflict in community. CVI models are proven to save lives and address the root causes that contribute to gun violence in communities. CVI programs provide individuals opportunities critical to changing their life trajectories.
Our partners at UTEC inc. host the largest annual conference dedicated to streetworkers in the nation. The conference highlights the importance of streetworkers and CVI programing throughout New England. On September 13th for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, the annual conference resumed at Gillette stadium. The program can be found here.
Featured Speakers included :
“Cultural icon and fierce justice reform activist Ricky Donnell "Freeway Rick" Ross triumphed over adversity which included being sentenced to life in prison as a convicted drug trafficker in Los Angeles, California, in the early to mid-1980s. "Freeway" went to prison not knowing how to read but eventually learned to read while serving his sentence and is credited with exposing the CIA's role in the "crack epidemic" that devastated black and brown communities across America.
Today "Freeway Rick" shares his process of redemption by promoting healing and peace. Freeway is an entrepreneur and youth empowerment leader and published author of Freeway Rick Ross: The Untold, Autobiography.” (UTEC, 2022)
“Armand has over eight years of experience developing and leading Restorative Justice (RJ) programming. He was introduced to RJ during his time incarcerated as a youthful offender. While incarcerated, Armand founded the Youthful Offender Coalition for those who were sentenced under age 18 and Men Exploring Their Own Obstacles which addresses toxic masculinity, rape culture, and sexism.
Armand currently serves as the Executive Director of the Transformational Prison Project to provide spaces where those who have been harmed and those who have done the harming can come together and engage in dialogue—to build understanding and empathy toward those who have been victims of violent crime. TPP is committed to understanding individual harms and the systemic harms that affect communities, more specifically communities of color.” (UTEC, 2022)
Alongside these keynote speakers, we heard messages from U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins, Patriot player Kyle Dugger and music by DJ Chubby Chub.
Street workers are crucial to violence interruption programs and play a central role in program implementation. Without them, these programs could not exist. We honor the lived experiences of these individuals, the stories they share, and their dedication to saving lives. Geoff Foster of Common Cause MA uplifted these concepts by providing legislative updates on the progress of the collective organizing streetworkers have made at the state level.
Further proving that together we can work to ensure that ALL youth are safe and free from the threat of gun violence!