Traffic Jam Community Action Campaign | City of Ideas

Posted 11/21/2012 by Collaborate Boston Application

Issue to be Addressed:
Issue: Youth violence committed with illegally trafficked handguns 

Gun violence is the LEADING cause of death for black and brown boys 12-24 years old.  According to law enforcement, nearly 100% of neighborhood shootings are committed with illegally trafficked guns. 

This campaign illuminates a number of unique, groundbreaking ways to engage with Boston youth to break the cycle of violence by getting guns out of their hands before something bad happens.

When we begin to reduce the flow of illegally trafficked guns, we will save lives.

Project Proposed:
Traffick Jam Community Action Campaign

Citizens for Safety is partnering with the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Mass. Dept. of Public Safety, Harvard School of Public Health, Project RIGHT, MassHousing and the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office to raise awareness of crime gun trafficking sources and mobilize community action to implement solutions.

Goal: Build an army of community residents to lead peer-to-peer education, outreach, and grassroots and social media organizing activities to cut off the supply of illegally trafficked guns at the source.

Signature programs:  Traffick Jam Leadership Trainings: workshops bring residents, law enforcement, public health experts and elected officials together to learn about the Iron Pipeline of illegal guns and steps we can take together to shut it down.

Where did the gun come from? public and media education campaign.  CFS inspires community leaders, public figures and journalists to ask "Where did the gun come from?" after every shooting to shift public attention beyond the  shooter and victim to the source of the gun.  We advocate for policy reforms to hold crime gun sources accountable.

Role of Collaboration:
CFS Leadership Team:  CFS recently hired 2 women community leaders to serve as Field Directors for the campaign.  The women organize Traffick Jam Leadership Trainings with community partners and the oversee the community-level actions that flow from the workshops.  They are experienced educators, organizers and group support counselors and have won high praise for their ability to connect with and inspire audiences.

Suffolk County District Attorney:  For years, the DA's Office has been trying to engage high-risk populations of youth in dialogues around the risks of gun carrying, but has had difficulty breaking through.  Traffick Jams create a trusting, safe, and comfortable environment that gives ADAs an opportunity to connect with youth and community leaders.  ADAs are able to impart valuable information about the consequences of getting caught with illegal guns in a way that allows workshop participants to hear and heed the warnings and spread the word to peers.

Workshops are held in partnership with a number of community organizations including Project RIGHT, Rosie's Place, Casa Myrna Vasquez, Inc., Grove Hall Public Library, Hyde Square Task Force, Bromley-Heath, Academy Homes, Simmons College, City School, Project HIP-HOP, Mothers for Justice and Equality, and more.  Lead organizations assist in recruiting their constituents, participating in the workshop, and collaborating on follow-up actions with workshop graduates.  CFS also has a list of more than 50 community organizations that have signed on in support of this project.

Lead partner MassHousing Partners helps introduce our campaign to a large number of public housing residents throughout the city.

Harvard School of Public Health collaborates with us on strategy, sharing research findings, and designing research and evaluation tools. 

*There is a dearth of research on the role women and girls play in buying, hiding and holding illegal guns for boyfriends, husbands and other males in their lives.  It's an important dimension of the dynamic that makes these illegal guns available for use in homicides and other violent crime.  HSPH is prepared to work with us to provide this crucial and missing research that can be used to inform public policy and advocate for change.

This project gives Boston teens a chance to channel their struggles, anxieties, conflicts, around neighborhood violence etc. into direct positive actions that can make a real and lasting difference in their lives.  There are many vital, extraordinary community programs working to reduce youth violence in Boston, but only CFS focuses on the role gun trafficking plays in arming shooters.  Keeping guns away from felons and teens is one of the most immediate, impactful things we can do to make black and brown boys' lives safer and their futures brighter.

Other information:
CFS' Traffick Jams and Where did the gun come from? campaign have been recommended to the White House as a national best practice, featured on CNN and trained hundreds of activists in five states.  They've won endorsements from the International Assoc. of Chiefs of Police, Governor Patrick, Mayor Menino, the Mass. DA's Assoc., Harvard School of Public Health and other prominent public health and safety leaders.  Funding support will allow us to bring awareness and opportunity for action to a wider audience and build a movement to stop the flow of illegal guns into Boston.

Primary Contact:
Citizens for Safety is a community-based coalition mobilizing the power of grassroots action to stop the flow of illegal guns and create safe communities where every child has a chance to grow up without the fear of getting shot.

Executive Director Nancy Robinson has dedicated the last 15 years to reduce youth gun violence.  She served on the National  States President's Council for the Million Mom March, and founded the country's first grassroots organization to combat illegal gun trafficking called Massachusetts Against Illegal Guns (MATH) in 2005.  MATH merged with Citizens for Safety in 2007 and has become a leading voice on solutions to crime gun trafficking.

Partner 1:
Project RIGHT has been a consistent and staunch supporter of CFS since its inception.  PRI's executive director, Jorge Martinez, serves on the current CFS board.  PRI is dedicated to improving the health, safety and well-being of residents in the Grove Hall section of Boston. They excel in trauma reduction, youth leadership development, and public policy advocacy.  If there's an innovative approach to a community problem, you can be sure PRI has a seat at the table.

Partner 2:
Harvard School of Public Health.  David Hemenway is head of the Violence and Injury Prevention Center, a member of CFS' board and long-time supporter of CFS' mission.  Professor Hemenway is recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on solutions to gun violence.  He authored the definitive book on the subject:  Private Guns, Public Health.

Partner 3:
Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley. The DA's office has made fighting gun crime a top priority, instituting the first gun court to focus specifically on criminal offenses with firearms.  DA Conley has said publicly that nearly 100% of the cases tried in gun court involve illegally trafficked handguns.  The DA's office is working with CFS to warn community residents about the dire consequences of trafficking in guns so they can make informed choices.

Partner 4:
MassHousing.  Thaddeus Miles is the Director of Public Safety for MassHousing and a member of CFS advisory board.  He is a highly influential, trusted and instrumental source of funding and other support for CFS.  Thaddeus helped organize a Traffick Jam for Governor Patrick and 100+ teens.  After the workshop, the teens vowed to work with the Governor to pass crucial anti-trafficking legislation.  CFS wouldn't be here today without the support of Thaddeus, Jorge, Professor Hemenway and DA Conley.

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