Violence Interrupters Clean Up Troubled Neighborhood With Help of Police, Code Compliance

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Interrupting violence in Dallas also means getting to the root of the problem.

A group tasked with helping decrease violent crime teamed up with the city and police department Wednesday morning for a special clean-up effort in one of Dallas’s most troubled areas.

A group of grassroots groups gathered with Dallas police and city code compliance employees along Independence Drive near Camp Wisdom and Cockrell Hill Roads to help collect trash.

It is an effort to go beyond garbage collection.

“We found there’s a direct correlation between every place that there’s high crime just so happens there’s high illegal dumping,” said Mar Butler, program director for Dallas CRED.

The city hired the group Dallas CRED, an extension of Youth Advocacy Programs or YAP, to help interrupt violence and help prevent it.

This area has seen several shootings in recent weeks, according to Butler.

“One of the neighbors said there was a shoot-out here last night,” he said.

The clean-up effort helps officials reach curious residents.

“Just this morning three people came to us and said: ‘Hey, can you help us with a job? Two people said I’m really tired of living in these motels, I really want to have a place to stay.’ We can actually help with those things because we’re actually connected to the resources being contracted by the city of Dallas,” said Butler. “That’s where we will win at the end of the day and it’s all from picking up one piece of trash after the next.”

‘Clean the Block Initiative’ also took part in the effort.

“These aren’t bad neighborhoods. These are neighborhoods that don’t have enough resources, have been neglected for years,” said ‘Clean the Block Initiative’ co-founder O’Neil Hesson. “The primary objective is not just to clean. That’s what people need to understand. The primary objective is to interact.”

Butler stresses in order to make a dent in violent crime private property owners must step up and allow advocates to come in and clean things up. He says they are often confronted with challenges in dealing with these owners.

“We’ll have food drives and we’re being ran off because it’s private property, but on these private properties a lot of criminal activities take place,” he said. “It seems these private property owners really perpetuate these things by serving as an obstacle. They won’t let us on the ground to do good.”

The group gathered after filling up several bags of litter and scraps to be hauled away by code compliance.

Butler says it’s likely they’ll have to come back to this and other troubled neighborhoods to pick up trash again.

“We’re just going to keep going because we realize it’s not just important, it’s effective,” he said.  

Clean the Block Initiative is planning a turkey giveaway on November 20 in South Dallas. Details will be released later.

For more information about Dallas CRED, click here.

For more information about Clean the Block Initiative, click here.

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