Knoxville, Tenn. (WATE) – Gun violence has increased in Knoxville in recent years. A number of young adults and teenagers have been killed, prompting some grassroots organizations to step up their efforts to combat gun violence, and one organization has just received money from the city so it can continue its assignment.
Mount Knox has partnered with the City of Knoxville and SEEED Knox to form community-based violence intervention and prevention initiatives.
The city just gave them several thousand dollars to help guide them in the right direction to make our city safer.
Denzel Grant is the Executive Director of Turn Up Knox.
He said, “We’ve had a lot of gun violence over the last few years, about five or six years, and ultimately we just want to come up with a program to take this initiative,” he adds, “the goal is to to pretty much halting much of the gun violence taking place in the city center. “
Those who participate in the organization are called “Interrupters”.
They try to break the cycle of violence through community engagement and preach forgiveness, not revenge when gun violence occurs in the community.
Grant said: “A lot of it will be boots on the ground, getting our hands on some people who we think might be high risk.”
The foundations are already laid. Volunteers are already active in different areas of the city.
The city just awarded Turn Up Knox $450,000 at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
Grant said some of that money will help volunteers get paid for their efforts,
“This is going to be a risky task. People coming in realize it’s going to be a risk and I thought it was necessary to put the right people in that position.
The city council also voted to start the application process for a $1.5 million federal grant to help the violence prevention program.
Not everyone at Tuesday’s city council meeting agrees with how the money would be distributed.
City Council member Amelia Parker said: ‘What I see is investments going on, using the black community as a reason to make investments, but when we look at the results, the black community is not the one being served.
Grant said Turn Up Knox’s goal is to be an organization that works directly with the community. This money will help them keep trying to make Knoxville a safer place.
“Our next step is to plan, to showcase ourselves, to add to the community what we already have,” Grant said.
Along with the intervention program, Turn Up Knox wants to help with case management and create mentorship programs for Knoxville youth.
It should be mentioned that there are organizations like this in other cities, including Chicago.
Grant said he met with some of their leaders to get ideas for growing the program here in Knoxville.
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