ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – Gun violence has been a much talked about topic among city leaders as they look for ways to curb crime. An anti-crime organization that once operated in Roanoke is making a comeback.
The Peacemakers are planning to restart patrolling the streets in an effort to deter violent crimes.
According to The Peacemakers, Inc. CEO and President Shawn Hunter, “It’s very important that us as men get out there on the streets teach conflict resolution, find out what is going on on the streets and try to quell it down as much as we possibly can.”
So far this year, the City of Roanoke has experienced nine shootings that resulted in a loss of life. Preventing gun violence through patrolling is one of the goals of the group, which disbanded in 2017 after Hunter’s own legal problem.
“I had some problems myself and I went and got back in tune with myself and I’m coming back vibrant and with more energy,” Hunter said.
Mayor Sherman Lea says he’s proud of the work the organization has done for the city but wants to ensure no one puts themselves in harm’s way.
“I just want to make sure nobody puts themselves in the line of fire. That’s my concern,” said Lea.
“That group has some experience. They have people who have previously been involved in gang work or being out in the streets and they’ve changed their lives,” the mayor added. “So there’s some element that they can help with that.”
Hunter was open about his past, saying, “At the age of 16, I was incarcerated. You know, I could have been dead.”
According to another member of The Peacemakers, Inc., Damon Davis, “I did 13 years in prison so I know exactly where these young kids are at. My mind was there at that time when I was their age. So I can understand. I can relate to them.”
Davis has been putting his boots on the streets of Roanoke since The Peacemakers, Inc. formed in 2016. He says he joined the organization to make a change within the community. Davis says the work of a Peacemaker isn’t just at night, but for him, it’s 24 hours a day seven days a week.
“It’s time to change. And they need somebody who understands them…somebody who’s been in the streets…somebody who’s been to prison…somebody who’s done the same thing they’re doing,” Davis said.
He continued, “These kids are losing their lives before they even get a chance to become an adult and it’s sad.”
To find out more information about The Peacemakers, Inc. or to contact them, visit their Facebook page.
For breaking news delivered to you, subscribe to WFXR’s breaking news email list