MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis organization who has partnered with Shelby County government and a national group spoke on their efforts as they work to end violence in the 901.
“I live here. I work here. I raise children here … It’s not a Black thing. It’s not a white thing. It’s a 901 thing. We all have to put efforts into making it safe for future generations,” said K. Durell Cowan, Heal 901 Founder and Executive Director.
Heal 901 is a nonprofit connecting vulnerable populations in Memphis with necessary resources.
“At Heal 901, we do not believe in putting band aids on top of gunshot wounds. What that means is to actually heal, it’s going to hurt. We have to recognize that,” said Cowan.
They are meeting people where they are in the community.
“We understand that loud talking, yelling, and aggressive verbiage also leads to physical altercations. From physical altercations, that also leads to gun violence. Understanding that formula and method, we have to intervene before we get to any violence period,” said Cowan.
They are putting what they call “violence interrupters” throughout their pilot area of Whitehaven during certain hours of the day.
“We have to be visible in the community and engage the community, be a part of the community. We have to be able to be in a position to be able to diffuse situations before they become violent,” said Cowan. “Outside of that, we will have outreach workers who are dealing with other things outside of just violence reduction.”
It is a preventative method to approach violence as a public health issue.
“It’s just as important as the last thing we just had to prevent, the spread of coronavirus. If we understand the resources and dollars that we had to put into stopping the spread of COVID-19, those same amount of resources, the same amount of diligence has to be put into the prevention method,” said Cowan.
The plan is to interrupt violence at its core to stop a generational spread.