Austin Community, Chicago

On Chicago Avenue in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, two warring groups were enforcing a boundary line between their respective territories. One day, a 14-year-old boy was walking to school when he accidentally crossed that line. The price for his mistake was a bullet to his back. The shooting wasn’t fatal, but he was paralyzed from the waist down. There was immediately a move to retaliate.

When two trained violence interrupters with histories in those two groups caught wind of the escalating danger, they intervened and were able to calm the situation, and after a month even persuaded the rival factions to sit down. They negotiated peace, and today the boundary line is gone. More important, there hasn’t been a single shooting related to that conflict since.

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