CHICAGO (CBS) — Now to a story only on CBS 2: Chicago in the crosshairs.
For the third weekend, there’s been a spike in violence.
Last weekend, gunmen shot and killed three people. Almost 40 people were wounded. Police said 36 people were arrested on gun charges. CPD added that 89 illegal guns were taken off the streets.
In an ironic twist, some former gang members are working to bring peace to the streets.
CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot has more.
The organization, Alliance of Local Service Organizations, known as ALSO for short, is one of nine groups in the city of Chicago that has partnered in group meetings with the Metropolitan Peace Academy with the goal of making communities safer.
Fred Wallace takes part in his exit interview.
“Restorative justice, you try to bring the victim and the perpetrator together,” said Wallace. “You talk to them separate and you see if you can get them to agree to come to the peace circle.”
Wallace just completed an 18 week course through the Metropolitan Peace Academy.
He’s an outreach worker in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.
“The reason I like doing this job because I helped destroy them streets, now I have the opportunity to rebuild them,” Wallace said.
He works with the Alliance of Local Service Organizations or ALSO, on the streets where he grew up.
“A lot of the little kids that I’m working with, I grew up with their parents,” Wallace said.
He’s built trust in the community, where people know him by his nickname Lil’ Fred.
“Even now that I’m grown and overweight, I’m still Lil’ Fred,” he said.
Jorge (George) Matos is one of the Metropolitan Peace Academy trainers and the ALSO director of safe streets.
“Street outreach, I think, has been around for many, many years. But we’re taking it to another level in this city,” Matos said.
He added that outreach training at one point consisted of only 40 hours. In 2018, it was increased to 124 hours, to include everything from the red flags that can spark an incident, how to diffuse situations and even self-care.
“Sometimes, it’s not for everyone, right? I’ve been doing this 13 years,” Matos said. “When you’re out late, working with young people in the community and sometimes you’re in dangerous situations. That takes a toll on you over time,” noted Matos
On the streets, Wallace approaches a group of young men.
“If you need anything from me, you know I’m here for you,” assured Wallace. “If you have someone that needs a job, just have them come up to the office on Kinzie and Chicago Avenue,” Wallace said. “It makes me feel great to know that I have changed someone’s life, took them away from the violence and showed them that there is a better path, than shooting people.”
Fred’s full-time job is paid for through private donations. He’s supposed to work eight hours each day, but often works much longer than that. Wallace said he wants to be there for his community when there is need.