Thu | Jan 23, 2020

Violence interrupters put their lives at risk to keep the peace

Published:Sunday | February 10, 2019 | 12:31 AM
Violence interrupters (from left) Pauline Perez, Wendy McGlashan and Sonia Whyte make the peace sign, signalling the work they do in their volatile communities.

They are the violence interrupters who work through a programme organised by the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) in 20 communities in the Corporate Area, St Catherine, and Clarendon.

“To a large extent, they are men and young women who have influence in the communities. A lot of them have been reformed and they have the trust and respect of other members in the communities. They are used to identify medium- and high-risk youths, as well as potential acts of violence and mediate, so that they do not happen,” CSJP official Orville Simmonds declared in a media interview in 2017.

Since then, these men and women have been working with the Peace Management Initiative to reduce conflict in some of the country’s most volatile communities.

Last week, three of the women who put their lives at risk in their effort to reduce the violence in their communities shared their stories with The Sunday Gleaner.

“If shot a fire, we run out, but we have to be careful; we are not going to run out same time and run go in it.”

- Pauline Perez, Denham Town

“You have a lot of conflicts with youths who are unattached, marginalised and sometimes feel very much neglected by society.”

- Sonia Whyte, Trench Town

“To be honest, it is not nice when shot a fire and you can’t sleep, so as the violence interrupter programme started in the community it kind of cool down certain things for the past one year, going two years now.”

- Wendy ‘Terry’ McGlashan, Tel Aviv