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Shooting scenes turn to memorials perhaps all too often in the city of Des Moines. The memorials, and the alleged criminals that create the need for them, are getting younger and younger.
“Our young people get the glamorous side of how guns are presented,” said Ivette Muhammad, chief operations officer of the Des Moines nonprofit Creative Visions. “They are not fully aware of the consequences behind handling guns.”
A new program, passed by Des Moines City Council on Monday night aims to stop gun violence by addressing the systemic issues around it.
Council approved a $380,000 contract with Creative Visions to implement a plan created by a worldwide program called Cure Violence. Another $65,000 was approved to go to Cure Violence for teaching and implementation.
Cure Violence aims to stop the spread of violence by treating it like a public health issue to detect and interrupt violent conflicts, and identify and treat behaviors and norms in people ages 14 to 25.
“It is building relationships,” said Ako Abdul-Samad, the CEO and founder of Creative Visions. “Actually, what it does is enhance the work we already do.”
“The key to the success of this program is in community-based organizations, and having the right folks on the ground that can have credibility with the community, so that they can interrupt the violence,” said Third Ward council member Josh Mandelbaum.
The program will allow Creative Visions to hire five employees, which includes outreach workers and “violence interrupters” aimed to stop violence and remediate it before it happens. Those workers will specifically target the Drake and Evelyn K. Davis Park neighborhoods.
The one-year contract can be renewed for an additional two more years. It expires in December of 2022. The goal is to reduce shootings by 30% to 40% over the next year.
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