There are a number of experiences that I have had related to gun violence. Growing up on the west side of Chicago, I have lost many of my peers to gun violence, on both sides of the fence. I have peers who have passed away as a result of gun violence, and I have peers who were arrested for murder, and who are still incarcerated 20-plus years later.
Today I work as an outreach specialist; my primary purpose is violence prevention. I work with young men between the ages of 18 and 30 years, who are considered at the highest-risk for being a victim of a violent crime or committing a violent crime. I received news two days ago that a young participant who was on my caseload, with whom I worked very closely, was murdered. I myself walk around with a bullet in my body from 1993 as a result of the gang culture that I was a part of. Today not only am I part of the fight against gun violence, I am also a substance-abuse recovery coach and outreach coordinator for NAEFI (National Alliance for the Empowerment of the Formally Incarcerated).