Promise Director Discusses Youth Violence at Cleveland City Council Forum

Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed hosted “Community Conversation: Solutions for Addressing Violence” on Thursday, October 27. The day-long event that brought together members of the community and healthcare and community organizations to talk about ways to prevent youth violence in Cleveland.

Promise director Lowell Perry Jr. participated in one of the event’s panels to discuss current programs addressing ongoing violence in the Central community. Led by moderator Wayne Dawson, news anchor for WJW Fox 8, the group talked about the importance of reaching kids at a young age to try to break the cycle of violence. They also discussed how jobs and creating opportunities for those people formerly incarcerated can provide a more appealing option than returning to the same cycle of criminal activity.

Perry talked to the group about how residents leading the change has been a successfully strategy for Promise and how that could translate into violence prevention. He also focused on Central’s strong schools and early learning centers.

Lowell Perry Jr., Promise director, speaks at Community Conversation forum.
Lowell Perry Jr., Promise director, speaks at Community Conversation forum.

“Any meaningful impact on violence prevention in neighborhoods will only come if residents themselves are intimately involved in the thought process around solutions, and execution of key strategies. Our Promise Ambassadors are prime examples of residents taking action,” said Perry.  “Access to quality education is also absolutely critical. Not only does training the mind prepare our young people for a future career, but it also opens up a new world of possibilities that may have appeared unthinkable to them in the past.”

The importance of working with families was also another hot topic during the panel. Andrea Martemus-Peters, MetroHealth and Dr. Edward Barksdale, University Hospitals, talked to the group about a new program that places ‘violence interrupters’ in hospital emergency rooms. The ‘violence interrupter’ meets with and counsels victims of violence while they are in the hospital. They also meet with victims family members to try to prevent retaliation and ongoing violence.

Overall, the event was a great starting point for bringing together the community to start to identify why violence is increasingly happening and what needs to be done collectively to start to turn the trend around.

“We look forward to working with Councilman Reed and others to continue this community conversation in other parts of Cleveland, and hopefully inspire action city-wide around creating a viable cradle to career pipeline that leaves guns and violence out of the mix,” said Perry in his closing statement.