President Joe Biden’s administration just announced a nationwide effort to help 53 community-based groups trying to stop the rising tide of violence in the U.S. get bigger and better so they can reach more people.
The outreach from the White House could help D.C.-based Alliance of Concerned Men save more lives. Its violence interrupters have achieved measurable success in reducing violence in Wards 6 and 7.
For three decades, the Alliance of Concerned Men has known that teens and early 20-year-olds relax in the presence of food and people who truly care about them. They relax enough to let in people like Carlos Wilson, a neighborhood liaison who went to the Alliance when he was a teenager having a very tough time.
“I lost my mom when I was 1, so, like, I know certain bumps in the road that they might come across, and with them growing up like that, I don’t want them to make the mistakes that I made,” he said.
Whether it’s the violence interrupters from the Cure the Streets program or conflict resolution or providing mentorship, members of the Alliance of Concerned Men know keeping it real is the only way.
“I was them,” Larry McMichael said. “I was them. I had murder charges. I had drug charges. I’ve been shot over 20 times.”
He steers the group’s conflict resolution efforts.
“No. 1 is listening to them,” he said. “You would be amazed how all of them say their parents doesn’t listen to them, all their parents do is yell and holler at them. And what I do is sit down and listen to them. I give them that ear that they want so bad.”
Executive Director Terrance Staley says the outreach effort from the White House could allow the organization to spread its mission out across the District, one outstretched hand, one caring voice, at a time.
The Alliance of Concerned Men was founded in 1992, during a spasm of violence across the District.
Two other D.C. groups also are invited to participate in the White House effort. J&J Monitoring assists in gang intervention and works with the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. A group called Yaay Me! provides violence intervention, skills training and business development services to young adults.