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'It's empowering when we unify' | Louisville groups want to use community policing to combat gun violence

One initiative involves recruiting "block captains" to work within West Louisville to meet with city leaders and the families who live in those blocks.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville's violence was the focus of an event Monday hosted by several community organizations. Men Against Gun Violence, X-Hate, Ten Good Men, and Arts & Activism joined together to host a dinner and panel discussion called "Shock Therapy" at the Chefspace on W. Muhammad Ali Blvd.

During the event, children shared their experiences with gun violence before an adult discussion on the need for more community involvement.

"All too often we get caught up in our own homes, and we forget that our children have to actually go outside where it's dangerous in order to play," said Jibriyll Izsrael, founder of Arts & Activism. "We can't just stick our heads in the ground, act like we don't have a responsibility to go outside and clean up not just our yards but our entire block." 

The groups are planning to work together on several initiatives. One involves recruiting what they call "block captains" to work within West Louisville to meet with city leaders and the families who live in those blocks. Izsrael, who used to live in Atlanta, said he's seen community policing in action and how it works to lower crime rates.

"I saw how easy it is when the men of the community have enough courage and heart and love to step out and pub their own lives on the line for the sake of the children," Izsrael said.

RELATED: Community groups ask for more men to take stand against gun violence by standing at school bus stops

Ten Good Men founder LeBron Seay said he wants everyone to be involved with their initiatives - "from the streets to the Mayor's Office." He called on public officials to come alongside these community groups as they work to confront Louisville's violence.

"We need everybody's assistance to clean up this problem we're dealing with," Seay said.

Kamal Wells, the founder and president of Men Against Gun Violence, said other programs planned for 2022 include crisis intervention and training programs as well as a mentorship program. Through the mentorship program, children who may be on the verge of getting involved in gun violence will be able to turn to a strong male figure, so the situation can be mediated before it escalates.

Wells, who works at Norton Children's Hospital, said he's seen too many kids who have been hurt or killed by gun violence.

"We can't continue to keep burying [children] instead of raising them," Wells said.

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