Bronx anti-violence organization aims to prevent shootings, put kids on the right path

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Monday, January 24, 2022
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Kemberly Richardson has more on Save Our Streets, an anti-gun violence organization in the Bronx that provides support to those tempted to take the wrong path.

BRONX, New York (WABC) -- Anti-violence advocates in the Bronx aim to stop shootings in New York City and put kids on the right path.

"Violence definitely isn't going to get you anywhere, except ... God forbid the slammer or a grave," Marisol Rivera said.

"They may not themselves be a victim of a crime, but at any given time they could be," Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson said.

That's precisely what drives Marisol Rivera to do what she does.

She says it's about saving the kids, each and every day in the some of the most dangerous neighborhoods here in the Bronx.

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"You can't tell a young person to put a gun down and don't replace it with a job, with a trade, or something they are interested in," Rivera said.

Rivera is what's called a violence interrupter or credible messenger.

She's part of the team at Save Our Streets, an anti-gun violence organization under the city's Crisis Management System.

They fan out to hot spots, talk, listen, provide alternatives and support to those tempted to take the wrong path.

The group's motto ... stop shooting and start living.

"I'm not ashamed to say I've been through trauma, a mother who couldn't support me, who was on drugs, similar to the stories they have so they can't say, you don't know what I'm going through, I understand, been there and I'm letting you know you can come out good and alive," Rivera said.

This initiative started in 2014, but Mayor Eric Adams vows to reinvigorate the effort with what he calls a holistic approach to dealing with violence.

"You have crews, young people, that fighting each other over blocks and spaces and so the CMS organizations that are on the ground understand that and we just need to give them the support they need, so they can expand, build capacity, hire more staff and really serve a larger community," Gibson said.

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There are many layers: Save Our Streets sends teams to hospitals, schools, visits precincts and has ties with ACS.

Marisol Rivera tells Eyewitness News reporter Kemberly Richardson that she considers violence a disease, and her work is the antidote.

"I just love to see the young kids do better, come to me say I'm working, going to school, you thought I wasn't listening, but I heard you, it took time, but we want to do the right thing," Rivera said.

Both consider this a call to action and attention.

"We can change the dynamic of this city and the Bronx right now. In January, we cannot wait," Gibson said.

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