Compton Mayor Aja Brown shares her work in Compton to reduce violence and increase employment opportunities for gang members. In conjunction with the federal My Brother’s Keeper initiative, she started an effort called Compton Empowered, working with gang members to reduce violence:
After beginning with our gang prevention efforts, we began focusing on gang intervention. I had worked in cities for a decade, and I knew that regardless of how many officers you have on the streets, they can’t prevent people from shooting guns and taking lives. We needed intervention. So I approached people in my community that I knew had influence and could assist me with bringing gang members to the table. I asked them to let the men know that I would like to speak with them about our babies and our future.
On a Sunday afternoon in June 2014, we had our first meeting. I was amazed and humbled as more than 75 men and women poured into our community center. I introduced myself to every single one of them and thanked them for coming.
The atmosphere was still. We all felt the tension and the power that sat in the room. I asked the men to pull up a chair in a circle, because we are all equal and we’re all connected. Many of the men were shocked, yet touched. They couldn’t believe that I actually wanted to speak with them and that I treated them with such respect.
It brings stakeholder engagement to a new level. Read on at CNN Money here.
Contributor: Benjamin Peterson, Pepperdine School of Public Policy alumnus, MPP ’16.