Monday, 17 September 2012

Documentary: The Interrupters (2011)

The Interrupters (2011)
Documentary, Crime

This is a powerful documentary looking into the violence surrounding the Chicago's South Side, where employment rates are low and crime and gang violence is high. A group called CureViolence (recently renamed from CeaseFire) made up of people previously involved in the gangs themselves, work to stop young people - all people - from being murdered on their streets.

Ameena Matthews especially impressed me. She is the daughter of Chicago gang leader Jeff Fort and grew up to be one of  his lieutenants. Being shot in an altercation changed her life and she got out of the game. Because of the respect her father commanded, and level of involvement in the gangs, she is able to go where a lot of guys can't get in.  When a street brawl broke out at the front of the CureViolence building, Armeena walks right into the middle of it and grabs one of the guy, dragging him away... and the guy actually listens to her. "Get them to laugh at themselves, find that soft spot, not weak," she says.

Cobe Williams, an ex gang member and one of the youngest on the CureViolence crew, was called to a woman's home; she has three sons, the youngest of which is imprisoned for attempted murder, the other two are in different gangs and the clashes in the home became too much for her, so she left them. She paid for the rent, left all the utilities in her name so they wouldn't be homeless but moved herself out and didn't tell them where she had gone. Cobe gets the three of them together and the situation becomes unmanageable for him alone so he takes them into the CeaseFire headquarters for mediation.

The one situation that really stuck with me though was when one of the Interrupters has been called out to a friends house. He was all uppity and raging to fight someone after the cops had broken down his door and arrested his mother. The Interrupter talked him down and when you see him later he's all cleaned up and working and actually interrupting his own conflicts. The turn around in that one person alone makes everything they do worthwhile.

I've watched this doco three times now and each time I'm impressed by the hard work these people put in to helping their community. If only there was a CureViolence group in every town, in every country. Recommend this to anyone!

5 out of 5 CeaseFire!
Tio Hardiman, founder CureViolence: "Can't nobody come in and tell somebody to put their gun down. They're not trying to dismantle gangs, they're trying to save a life."

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