The Program on Negotiation Film Series recently screened The Interrupters, a documentary film that follows three “violence interrupters” as they work to prevent violence in Chicago’s neighborhoods. The interrupters are outreach workers who were once notorious for their past gang-related experience, but who now work for an organization called CeaseFire, an initiative of the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention.
CeaseFire was founded by epidemiologist Gary Slutkin, who implements a public health model for the treatment of violence, just as he would with any epidemic disease, such as AIDS or Tuberculosis. The treatment, Dr. Slutkin believes, should address the root of the infection, where the violence begins. Thus, to help their communities, “the interrupters detect and interrupt events and block one event from leading to another and so on.”
Slutkin’s approach to stopping violence also involves encouraging the interrupters to be involved in the community and to work with people who are at risk for participating in violent acts. This both prevents future outbreaks of violence and helps remediate those who were previously involved with violence.
Following the screening, world-renowned mediator William L. Ury joined Dr. Slutkin for a discussion of the film. Dr. Ury shared his appreciation for the work of CeaseFire and agreed that the best mediators are often those closest to the community. “People can exercise the power of being peers, coming from common ground, in many negotiations,” said Dr. Ury.
The CeaseFire program is gaining strength throughout other cities across the nation. Dr. Slutkin’s hope is that we are moving towards a future in which the epidemic of violence is arrested and more neighborhoods will become safe and violence-free.
To see the trailer to the movie, click here.
To read more about Gary Slutkin, please visit his website.
For more information about upcoming film screenings of the Program on Negotiation Film Series, please visit our website.