How to stop the spread of violence

The Takeaway

This story was originally reported by PRI’s The Takeaway. For more, listen to the audio above.

There have been 216 homicides in Chicago this year, according to RedEye, a Tribune service that tracks the city’s murders. Many people are pointing the finger for this violence directly at gangs.

Minister Tim White knows about gang violence. He spent 25 years in the Vice Lords gang in Chicago, starting at age 12. Eventually, White told PRI’s The Takeaway, “I got sick and tired of the lifestyle. I was in and out of jail a lot…. It was not until I was older that I aged out, I wanted something different.”

The number of those deaths attributed to gangs is a bit inflated, according to White. Many of them were likely over interpersonal matters, like conflicts over boyfriends or girlfriends. But if one or two of the perpetrators were in a gang, the violence is often chalked up to gang activity.

The blame shouldn’t be on the police either. “I think the police department is doing the best it can,” White said. It’s nearly impossible for them to deny guns to people of Chicago, and they can’t seem to infiltrate the inner circles of the gangs, either.

The problem is violence itself. White is a part of the group Ceasefire that treats violence like a disease. He and other members of the group call themselves “violence interrupters.” As soon as a shooting happens, members of the group show up at the hospital to try to figure out what happened. He explains, “We try to diffuse it or contain it before it spreads.”

The solution, according to White, involves economic development and programs that work with gangs to reduce fighting. People should focus on long-term solutions, White says, because the problem is “not going away any time soon.”

“The Takeaway” is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH. More at

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