One-time shooters testifying at a vigil for two young shooting victims are part of CeaseFire, a path-breaking violence-interruption program pioneered in Chicago that is now being piloted in two combined Philadelphia police districts, reports the city’s City Paper. The Chicago program has drawn national attention, and a documentary, The Interrupters, premières this weekend. CeaseFire conceives of violence as a disease whose transmission can be stopped. In Philadelphia, Temple University’s School of Medicine runs the program.
Though violent crime has declined nationwide over the past two decades, poor black and Latino neighborhoods continue to suffer from rampant gun violence. Indeed, CeaseFire programs are also under way in the most violent neighborhoods of other U.S. cities, including Baltimore, Brooklyn, New Orleans, and East St. Louis. One day’s shooting victim is at high risk of becoming tomorrow’s shooter, so CeaseFire meets everyone they can as soon as possible — usually when they’re still lying in a hospital bed. The two boys have agreed to not retaliate, and will become CeaseFire clients. CeaseFire is not trying to find the killer and bring him to justice, nor do they inform police about illegal activities: They are solely fixated on stopping the shooting.