Project CeaseFire Fights Gun Violence with Community Leaders

With gun violence approaching epidemic proportions in the United States, Project CeaseFire is approaching the issue from a new perspective: treating it like the epidemic it is. It’s one of the few evidence-based methods for tackling gun violence that aims to counteract the problem at its source, focusing on prevention through intervention, education and other public outreach measures to make communities safer. Founded in Chicago, it’s spread to other U.S. cities and attracted worldwide attention thanks to the film The Interrupters, which profiled some of the people who work for the organization.

One of the key components of the Project CeaseFire approach is the use of “violence interrupters,” who play a very unique role. These people establish themselves as trusted community leaders, building rapport with residents of an area so that when they see signs of a conflict, they can step in to deescalate. The founders of Project CeaseFire noticed that many incidents of gun violence were random, or the result of minor conflicts that were allowed to blow up. By intervening at the source, the interrupters can increase the chances of surviving a conflict alive and well.

Notably, many interrupters are former gang members themselves, and some have served time in prison. By employing ex-offenders, Project CeaseFire also highlights another issue with the cycle of violence in the U.S. Many people have trouble finding work after leaving jail or prison, and can fall back into dangerous habits even if they want to improve their lives. Project CeaseFire offers a way out to the people with the direct experience that can help when it comes to defusing tensions in the streets and helping people seek alternatives to violence.

Interrupters aren’t the only thing Project CeaseFire has going for it. The program also conducts outreach to get teens into GED programs, help youth get out of gangs, connect young adults with drug and alcohol treatment, help teen parents and get at-risk youth into the workforce.  All of these measures are designed to act preventatively to keep violence from happening and to bring it in check; rather than allowing it to spread through a community like a virus, they create buffers, a set of antibodies, if you will, that promote peaceful, safe communities.

Chicago, the city where the program started, has expanded its coverage, while a number of Illinois cities have also joined with partnership programs of their own. Nationally, Project CeaseFire is active in New Orleans, Oakland,  New York City, Baltimore and a number of other locations. Many of these programs have showed concrete successes in terms of radically reducing the incidence of violence on the streets and helping troubled youth carve out new futures for themselves.

In an era where violence seems inescapable, Project CeaseFire is offering a helping hand and a way out; can more U.S. cities commit to bringing in this innovative intervention program, and can those with existing programs expand their funding to increase their staffing and coverage? If they do, the United States could experience a radical shift in the way gun violence is handled, and the number of young adults, primarily young black men, dying on the streets could experience a much-needed decline.

Related posts:

Gun Violence A Public Health Problem

White Masculinity’s Ties to Rape and Gun Violence

Beyond Bullets: Combating Gun Violence in NYC Schools

Photo credit: Michael Saechang


Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener3 years ago


Steve Brenner
Steve Brenner3 years ago

This is more about mass weapons of mass deception than weapons of mass destruction, you are being lied to consistently, will you trade your freedom for security? The sheeple will!
Google Sandy hook, watch the Sandy Hook Oscars, there are many inconsistencies in Sandy Hook, many of you, probably would agree with our govt. that its ok to lie to the public in order to bring more alleged security? Sandy Hook is the tip of the iceberg, the longer it takes people to wake up, the more freedoms we will lose. Are there really people on here that still think govt. is looking out for your best interest and your vote counts?
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Bartley Deason
Bartley Deason3 years ago

Wanda B.
Again, thanks for the reponse to my questions. One last question (I hope). IF the feds would pick up the tab, knowing that the money would be coming from taxpayers , would you agree then?

Wanda B.
Wanda Bagram3 years ago

@Bartley D.- Who pays for it is extremely important. You cannot mandate someone to pay for a US Constitutional Right, if I agreed with the Left on this or the Lefts idea of mandatory Gun insurance/ paying for gun classes it means I also agree with the Right on their demands on Mandatory picture ID’s for Voting. Both are un-Constitutional and I cannot back either. Basically mandating someone to pay for their Rights is like creating a state that only those with money have certain Rights they can afford and the poor have un-equal Rights. If it helps think of it as mandating someone to buy 1st Amendment insurance, you can only express yourself if you can afford it. Even if others here think this idea is farfetched because they do not believe in the Right to Bear arms, it is still a valid comparison when you want to expense another individuals Rights away from them. Remember US Blacks at one point were faced with discrimination when mandatory expenses were levied on them in order for them to have the Right to Vote, that was shot down as Unconstitutional.

Bartley Deason
Bartley Deason3 years ago

So, Wanda B, thanks for the response, but i still do not know whether you agree that safety classes for the newbies should be mandatory before purchasing a gun, regardless of who pays for it.

Philip S.
Philip S.3 years ago

We need programs targeted at unlawful gun owners not legal responsible gun owners.

Eric Hurner
Eric Hurner3 years ago

A good project and a start to approaching the whole problem of violence from a societal point of view. Reactions to the Newtown shootings, which started a whole series of these discussions, were basically flawed in that on the one hand, there were statements like, *to stop a bad man with a gun you need a good guy with a gun." and on the other, a mass of calls for more rigid gun laws.

Neither or these two is going to create a less violent society. How can MORE laws that are not properly enforced assist in containing violence to a greater extent than existing ones? Everything a killer like that does is illegal already. And from the reactions to the call for more laws it is perfectly clear that it is not going to happen. People are generally too fearful of the consequences of greater gun control.

To the idea of greater presence of guns, how is that going to help? One just has to picture a group of armed civilians in a situation like that shooting at a gunman on school grounds, even if, in the short space of time available to them to act, they had access to their guns, to picture the kind of carnage that could ensue.

You cannot apply the law to a dead man, so all you can do is to bring into a public forum what is a public tragedy and discuss the root causes, try to understand the psychological and societal problems that make someone act that way. And then, as in this case, create programs that CHANGE the causes rather than react on a gut level to the effects.

James Kelly
Mike Kelly3 years ago

Duey M. "James K. 'Guns don't kill people - people kill people.
The states with the highest gun ownership rates have a gun murder rate 114% higher than those with the lowest gun ownership rates.'

Wrong- I can put you in a room alone with one loaded gun. It will never kill you unless YOU pull the trigger."

I suppose you could put me in a bathroom without a gun and I could fill up the tub and drown myself too. Eh, Dewey?

Well, Dewey, here are the facts: In 2002, more than 30,000 Americans killed themselves, with just over half using a gun.

Firearms are used in only 5 percent of the attempts, but caused more than half of the deaths because guns have a 90%, sure fire fatality rate. After all, killing people is what the gun was designed to do. Damn efficient at it too.

Why just look at Aurora or Newtown. Scores dead in just a matter of seconds. Would have been more deaths at Aurora except the gun jammed. ARs are notorious for that, if they're not perfectly clean. An AK, on the other hand, could be dropped in mud and still flawlessly wipe out 30 moviegoers or school children in 6 seconds because that's what military weapons do.

James Kelly
Mike Kelly3 years ago

Duey M., See sources cited at the end of MY post. You see, that's what adults do when they cite facts. At the end of the post there is a site for fact check.

I see you pulled your facts out of your nose along with some nice boogers. You say you need more than 7 rounds to hit anything? You need some practice, boy.

Well, have a nice day there, Dewey. Hey, how are your two brothers, Hughie and Louie doing? Say hi to Uncle Donald.

Wanda B.
Wanda Bagram3 years ago

@Lyn n S.- Sir, A Rocket launcher is a weapon of destruction because it is an explosive and restricted by the ATF, the 2nd Amendment claim was a weak cop out at best. A Semi-Auto Rifle is not a weapon of destruction and not a weapon of war (100+ year old technology that only recently does everyone think it is some kind of high tech unheard of Rambo maker) although battle field rifles, which can fire at higher rates and have different internal functions, are weapons of war. Just because a Semi-Auto rifle is ‘dressed’ to look like a scary Battle field rifle, it does not make it a battle field rifle. Just like dressing up an average Joe on the street to make him look like a professional baseball player, does not make him a professional baseball player. When everyone who has very limited knowledge of the mechanics behind firearms make such claims it only shows that the only research that is being done is taking whatever the anti-gun media feeds with no factual base to support it.