The New York Amsterdam News’ 8th annual Labor Awards Breakfast is set to kick off Thursday, Sept. 29, with renowned human rights activist and anti-violence leader Erica Ford honoring women leaders of color and speaking on the state of gun violence in the city.
Ford founded LIFE Camp Inc., a violence interrupter and youth non-profit organization, in 2002. The organization works to give young adults intensive case management, mentorship, access to education, and employment opportunities. They also have the famed Peace Mobile, which is a giant bus with tricked-out amenities to reduce violence in impacted areas and that provides unconventional therapeutic services to community members experiencing cumulative stress from gun violence.
“Real recognize real and real people is who we bring with us,” said Ford in a radio interview with Angie Martinez. Ford was one of the originators of the city’s Crisis Management System (CMS), which is community-based solutions to public safety. Ford in the interview said that the concept for redirection and crisis management came from a group that met in her living room with a young Tupac Shakur in the early ’90s. Ford said that meeting built the “Thug Life” code.
She helped grow the first five pilot CMS sites funded by the mayor’s office. The program has since evolved to 34 locations throughout the boroughs and 17 police precincts. She has received countless awards over her 30+ years of service to ending gun violence in the South East Queens and New York City.
“That’s why it’s important what we do at Life Camp and all the other members of the crisis management systems, to go before 911 is called. And to be there to intervene and intercede with violence incidents,” said Ford.
Ford will be introducing Elinor Tatum, the publisher at the New York Amsterdam News. Tatum and the editorial team here created the Beyond the Barrel of the Gun project earlier this year as a method of addressing gun violence in Black & brown communities through journalistic solutions. The project pools information and coverage on mass shootings as well as daily incidents of gun violence, but more importantly, follows up on impacted communities like East New York, Harlem, or the South Bronx.
“Violence is erupting in our communities. Our children are dying. We see it every day, we live it every day. And we at the Amsterdam News do our best to cover it every week, but we know we must do more,” said Tatum.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w