Cure Violence program seeing success on Eastside & Northside

Cards with 'no shoot zones' being passed out to remind people to keep the peace

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Preventing shootings and murders is the goal of Cure Violence as it says Jacksonville's Eastside and Northside neighborhoods are becoming more peaceful.

Cure Violence Program Implementation Director Damien Cook said both areas saw nearly a month without any shootings or killings.

"That's the type of thing that we are looking for -- to be able to pull together good periods of time where there is peace in the neighborhood," Cook told News4Jax on Monday.

Brittany Jones, a mother of three, says she sees the change on the Eastside.

"It's more calmer. It's not so much people, so many more people hanging out. That's a big thing and then a lot of people, it's communications. They talk. I haven't seen any fights and stuff like that," said Jones, who has lived in the area for two years.

For last 90 days, Cure Violence -- led by the Noah's Ark Project, outreach workers and violence interrupters -- has been working on the Eastside in Zone 1 -- a community that has seen heartbreaking violence. 

Cure Violence is passing out "Don't shoot" cards with a list of "no shoot zones" in the neighborhood as a reminder to put the guns down.

"These cards are effective with the individuals that we are targeting because it reminds them of the places where they can have a negative impact because of their actions," Cook explained. "It certainly is not saying that there are shoot zones. That is not the case. We are advocating peace and no violence everywhere."

It's seems to be working. According to Cook, the Eastside in Zone 1 and the Northside in Zone 5 have had at least 25 days of no shootings or killings.

Cure Violence Target Areas map

Cure Violence records show the teams have put in more than 1,580 hours of community service on the Northside. During that time, there have been nine shootings and five homicides. On the Eastside, according to the records, the team has put in more than 1,120 hours in the community. During that time, there have been three shootings and one homicide. 

MAP: Cure Violence Target Areas

"They have committed to this and committed to doing this work," Cook said.

Jones says she sees the change and hopes it will stay that way for her family. 

"It has been OK and safe, so I feel comfortable with them being over here," she said.

Whether it is through walking through the community, cards with reminders for peace or simply talking to people, Cure Violence says it is working hard to keep peace for everyone. 

The teams will need more help. The Northside has four team members and needs eight more. The Eastside team has seven members and needs to add one more.

Organizers say this is a critical program for the two zones and it requires community trust. Some people in the community were concerned about police working with Cure Violence. Organizers with Cure Violence want the community to know that Cure Violence is not sharing information with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

One of the violence interrupters, Jackie Bell, told News4Jax by phone that, "They are not soaking that," meaning they are not working with police. 

About the Author: