Louisville Metro Council members Cheri Bryant Hamilton, D-5, and David James, D-6, are partnering with anti-gang advocates in a new anti-violence initiative.
The “No Red Dots” campaign seeks to educate at-risk youth and adults about conflict resolution and train neighborhood leaders in mediation. It is named after the red dots Metro Police used to indicate shootings on crime maps. According to Metro Police statistics there have been approximately 70 shootings and 20 homicides this year.
James says the high concentration of those crimes were committed in west Louisville and the escalation is alarming, adding there is no panacea to violent crime.
“This is designed so that we don’t have more red dots on our maps that show where people have been shot,” James told WFPL. “There is not one single thing that we’re going to do that’s going change the violence levels, it’s going to be a holistic approach that’s going to have to be taken.”
The campaign will launch in the California and Shawnee neighborhoods initially, but could expand into other areas of the city. It will be aimed at four demographics from middle school aged students to young adults to train them with specific skills on conflict resolution.
Leaders with the Peace Education program and Life Institute, Inc., have endorsed the project and will help craft the multi-week training sessions. Part of that will be training “street captains” who will be deployed in key areas to push for alternatives to violence.
“Recent events have shown us that the skills of peer mediation, conflict resolution, and prejudice reduction are needed more than ever in these neighborhoods,” says Eileen Blanton, who is executive director of Peace Education. “We were honored when Councilman James asked Peace Education to be a part of the No More Red Dots Campaign.”
After completing various multi-week programs, participants will meet for a collaborative workshop to discuss their progress and ways to intervene before violence escalates. The group will also hear from anti-gang activist Ricardo “Coby” Williams, who starred of the award-winning documentary 'The Interrupters” about combating inner-city in Chicago with similiar techniques.
James says getting the community to buy into the idea and recruiting so-called “street captains” at the grassroots level will be crucial for the program's success to deter some of the violence.
“If we get the people who are the recognized leaders in the neighborhoods to understand the conflict resolution principles and they can work with those people that need to be worked with, we think it’ll work,” he says. “It’s some evidence based programming that’s been proven and we’re trying to combine these two programs together to have a more efficient effect in our community.”