After 13 years, Tim Smith left prison with the knowledge of Black history and encouragement to create a better future tucked into his pocket. His incarcerated elders gave him this gift. And when he returned to his Chicago community, he became a community violence interventionist.
And on one of many days, as tensions rose in his neighborhood, Smith put his skills to use.
The tension originated from two gang rivals, their territories divided by one main road. But before their rivalry could escalate into violence, Smith invited them to a community event on neutral territory to talk unarmed.
As music blared, community members ate, and children enjoyed a bouncy castle. The two men talked and realized they had family in common. That connection produced a level of solidarity and respect that hadn’t existed before.
That day, Smith proved that solidarity is one of the key strategies we can use to handle conflict and prevent violence.
And while we’re still fighting for a liberated future, this framework encourages us to approach potential violence in a new way, instead of using anti-Black prisons and cops to perpetuate even more violence.