Local community groups feel left out of process in efforts to curb violence

CHARLOTTE — Officials said 2020 was one of the most violent years in Charlotte’s history, and this year is not looking much better.

“So we’ve been pushing for violence interruption programs since 2017,” said Robert Dawkins, Action NC.

His organization and many others got the city to try violence interruption, which means that residents who are trusted in the community would monitor social media and try to stop disputes from escalating to violence.

They’ll follow a model from the Curb Violence program in Chicago.

[9 Investigates: Charlotte to model nearby city to help cut crime]

Some local groups feel left out, saying the city isn’t considering them for the partnership, while instead considering other groups that don’t have local ties.

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“They should not have done it the way they did it,” said Gemini Boyd, with Project Bolt. “They should not have had people eager to believe their organization could have been the one chosen.”

“No ties to Charlotte. No ties to the Beatties Ford Road corridor. No ties to violence,” said Lucille Puckett, with Take Back Our Hoods.

In response to the groups’ claims, the city of Charlotte told Channel 9 it can only award a contract to a group that is registered as a 501(c)3 non-profit. A spokesperson said only two of the four groups that applied for the grant meet the qualifications.

The city has not awarded the grant yet and will continue to evaluate options. A spokesperson said the city values the work local organizations are doing to reach the same goal of preventing violence in Charlotte.

“I think people are getting confused on is nobody that is going to do the work is gonna be from out of town,” Dawkins said. “The methodology is from out of town, but everybody that does the work is not only gonna be from Charlotte.”

The city of Charlotte’s full statement is below:

The City has not yet awarded a contract for these services and we are continuing to have conversations with two organizations who met the minimum requirements established for this project. As part of our evaluation process, we will be examining the organizations’ history of providing these services here in Charlotte and in other communities along with their ability to mobilize residents against violence. Implementing evidence-based programs such as Violence Interrupters is a core component of our Framework to Address Violence. We are committed to selecting the organization that is best positioned to implement this program according to the scientifically-backed methodology provided by Cure Violence Global.