In a year where Milwaukee homicides have continued at a pace doubling recent years, Milwaukee Ald. Ashante Hamilton and other community leaders introduced an initiative aimed at curbing the violence through community-driven intervention.
The Safe Zone Initivative will establish “safe zones” in four of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods, where community leaders will be available to intervene in potentially violent situations and counteract the root causes of violence, like poverty and educational disparity.
Eleven community members (pictured above right during a news conference last Thurdsay kicking off the initiative), called “H.O.O.D. (Helping Others Obtain Direction) Ambassadors” have been hired and trained in crucial skills like conflict resolutions, de-escalation, communication, community mapping and counter-human trafficking.
“Sometimes the most effective help has to come from within a troubled area,” said Hamilton. “The ambassadors who will work in the safe zones are people who are from these neighborhoods.
“They have a stake in turning them around, they know the people and they know what it means to struggle with poverty.”
Throughout the summer, “H.O.O.D. Ambassadors” will work in the safe zones Tuesdays through Saturdays from 1 to 11 p.m.
The city-backed effort is made possible by a partnership with community leaders Khalil Coleman and Shawn Moore, as well as Muhammad Mosque #3, New Hope Baptist Church, Northwest Side Community Development Corp., the Garden Homes Neighborhood Association, Peace for Change Alliance, True Strength Group Milwaukee, We Got This, I Will Not Die Young campaign, Cross Jordan Ministries, Alpha and Omega Ministries, the Coalition of Hope and the Universal Companies.
Safe Zones will be located in each of the four “Promise Zones” designated under Ald. Hamilton’s “Milwaukee Promise” legislation: Division/Harambee, Washington Park, Greater Old North Milwaukee and the Near South Side.
“With the support of our neighborhoods, our faith community and our dedicated corps of ambassadors, and working together with police and city officials, it is my hope that we can begin to steer would-be offenders away from the path to violence and dispair,” the alderman said.
“Eradicating violence is a big job,” Hamilton continued, “and it will take no less than a total commitment from each member of our community. I challenge every one of our neighbors to get engaged with this critical effort.”
After the news conference, residents of nearby Garden Homes Neighborhood rallied together for a neighborhood cleanup with the ambassadors.