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ISAAC Update on Group Violence Intervention

You may have seen the story in the Gazette recently, describing new ways that local law enforcement is seeking to resolve the rising incidence of violence–rather than simply making arrests. The origin story of this work dates to the ISAAC Banquet in 2012, where you may have heard the compelling remarks of the keynote speaker, David M. Kennedy, author of the book Don’t Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship and the End of Violence in Inner-City America (based on Boston’s implementation of this approach as “Operation Ceasefire”.) Since then, ISAAC’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force has continued advocating for this effort and nurturing its development with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and other partners, to bring this approach into practice here. This is what the program looks like now in Kalamazoo.

Group Violence Intervention (GVI) is a community-driven strategy, with a Coordinator as the nucleus, that includes community, law enforcement, and social services working together to reduce violence, address societal barriers, and collectively support impacted community members. In 2020, GVI implemented community-led Individual Interventions and Home Visits where holistic, collective, and sustaining support, relationships and resources were offered to our community members impacted by gun violence. GVI community members include representatives from ISAAC, the Northside Ministerial Alliance and NAACP, street outreach workers, community members/leaders, Pastors on Patrol, Clergy, as well as Mothers, Fathers and Leaders who have been impacted. ISAAC also is part of the newly formed Kalamazoo Black and Brown Therapy Collective’s Advisory Board, offering connections to Therapists of Color to community members experiencing racial trauma.

GVI’s goal is for all our community members to be safe, alive, out of prison…and to have the opportunity to live their best purpose-filled life. Applying a culturally competent and anti-racism lens within this work is essential. When applied correctly, outcomes and communication are improved, trust is strengthened, and institutional policies and practices can be transformed. Evaluation and open communication are used to ensure that our work has no unintended consequences and that our institutions and practices are progressing and rooted in equity, and to help this strategy continually improve. It is deeply encouraging to see what can be grown from the seeds we plant, support and continue to cultivate together through ISAAC.

We wanted to also thank all those who supported our work through donations, shopping and delivering so that we could help our GVI families for the holiday with food baskets, gifts and gift cards!!!

Please see photos of only some of the cards, gifts and food basket/boxes. Fathers communicated extreme gratitude and love for GVI’s help for their families. The Holiday time can be stressful for community members, especially during a pandemic, and for those experiencing societal obstacles.

So again, thank you for this holistic work of GVI. We are excited for the work in 2021 around healing, equity, removing societal obstacles and addressing trauma with our young Brothers/Fathers.

Elder Doug King, ISAAC President, Ms. Wendy Flora, ISAAC Secretary and Dr. Charlae Davis, ISAAC Executive Director

Learn more about GVI
History of ISAAC’s role:
Myths about GVI (from the ISAAC 2019 Issues Convention):