Since 2002, Life Camp, Inc. has been training and deploying people they call “violence interrupters” into the local community to stop violence before it happens. It’s part of the Cure Violence movement.
After the mayor announced Wednesday an additional $10 million of funding to expand Cure Violence initiatives to cover 20 precincts with the highest rates of gun violence, he toured Life Camp in Jamaica, Queens Saturday.
“This is where the solution is. The crisis management system, the Cure Violence movement, is the solution in terms of the future of this city; it has to come from the grass roots," de Blasio said in an exclusive interview with NY1. "Real change has to involve the people. You cannot just police people from outside. It has to be from the grass roots.”
Life Camp is one of several dozen community-based violence interruption organizations that are a part of the city’s crisis management system. The mayor heard directly from violence interrupters and volunteers who work in their communities, earning trust from people they say would otherwise be vulnerable to gun violence.
One man, who wanted to be identified as only Mr. Frazier, volunteers with Rock Safe Streets, a cure violence organization in Far Rockaway. He asked the mayor a question on the minds of many.
“Who are we supposed to call when the police are killing us?" he asked.
“We have to stop that reality,” the mayor responded to Mr. Frazier. “It’s not just who we have to call. It’s more profound than who we just have to call.”
“What we want the mayor to learn is the pain of people form the constant over policing,” said Erica Ford, founder and CEO of Life Camp. “The constant targeting and harassment of people, particularly the ones that don’t have uniforms and ride around in undercover cars and jump out on people all night. We want him to know that there’s terror in our communities. And people are being terrorized. Not only the protesters, but every day and every night, people are being terrorized.”
The City Council Friday proposed cutting the NYPD’s budget by $1 billion.
While the mayor says he is exploring reductions, he couldn’t commit to an amount Saturday.
“We have to find that exact number that is taking resources that currently go to NYPD and go to youth programs and social services, and help address the root causes without undermining the safety of people of this neighborhood and neighborhoods all over the city," de Blasio said. "It’s a balance. We will find that balance."