KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Several groups working hard to stop the violence around them, stood before a Kansas City City Council committee on Wednesday to declare their support in the fight against violence in their communities.
The groups represented included 100 Men of Blue Hills, Share the Love House, Pastor Calvin Wainright and The Kansas City No Violence Alliance (KC NoVA).
The groups each do their part to meet the needs of their community and find ways to mediate conflict before it turns violent. One trained volunteer holds group meetings to help people with their mental health issues. Others step forward to provide clothes and shoes and job information, as well as stepping in when there is a conflict. Another group is knocking on doors of people who have committed violent crimes, to check on them and encourage them as they are out of prison. Another group (GYRL) is focusing its attention on domestic violence.
All were represented Wednesday at the public safety meeting to explain to city leaders their roles and mission to stop violence. Andre Thurman, 100 Men of Blue Hills director, was their spokesperson. FOX 4 spoke to him at City Hall about the purpose of '100 Men'.
What is 100 Men of Blue Hills?
"We've assembled a large group of young men and women who have made a commitment first of all to not take part in any acts of violence ourselves amongst one another and also to spread that throughout the city, not only in the effort to make peace throughout the city between individuals, between street organizations, between different rival neighborhoods or whatever the case may be…. we are out there actually knocking on doors if need be in the attempt to resolve any conflicts that exist that could lead to an act of violence," he explained.
He says like most of the other anti-violence volunteer groups mentioned above, 100 Men of Blue Hills does not have a budget or a payroll. He believes the community can come together to stop violence. Many of the people in the 100 Men group have been on the streets, have committed the same crimes they see happening around them.
"We are just accepting responsibility. It's my hope that the rest of this city, the people who are in position and have the ability to do so, would get behind us. We realize that this work can't be done by everyone. Some people can make the situation worse when they try to put their hands in it. So, we realize this is something that has to be fixed by those of us who took a part of messing it up. It's taking on responsibility that we're doing," said Thurman.
"We understand that if we don't take the leadership in addressing this issue than more than likely it won't get done. We also understand that it's unfair to put this responsibility totally on law enforcement," Thurman said. "We lead by example. A lot of the people on the team, we've been on the other side, been out on the streets, been in prison, released, some been back again, released, learned our lesson, come back out and do something different; something that made sense. Some of us are determined. If we ever had to suffer a penalty again it will be for something that'll make sense. This makes sense to us."
He said the motto of 100 Men is keeping our city safe, productive and beautiful.