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Violence Interrupters Work To Break 'Cycle Of Retaliation' That Leads To Shootings, But Say They Need More Manpower

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago's shootings are fueled by the "cycle of retaliation" according to Chicago's top cop.

As CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reported Wednesday, community-based organizations are working to break that cycle in neighborhoods such as Auburn Gresham, where 15 people were shot and wounded Tuesday night at the scene of a funeral.

Nonviolence organizations in Auburn Gresham and across the city said the coronavirus pandemic has had a "massive effect" on the city's violence. They also said they need more boots on the ground to stop the spread.

"A drive-by shooting in Chicago more than likely always leads to some kind of retaliation," said police Supt. David Brown.

That cycle of retaliation shootings is coupled with increased anxiety and tension due to COVID-19.

"That's a bad recipe," said Darrell Dee Johnson of the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago.

A violent and deadly recipe indeed.

"Shooting up a funeral – that's the lowest form of indecency," said Autry Phillips, executive director of the Target Area Development Corporation.

Phillips said his organization had outreach workers on the scene during the shooting, and they spent hours Tuesday night doing one of their most important jobs.

"You're taking to the individuals' friends. You're talking to family members, trying to get them to understand: 'Hey look, we know this is bad. This is not the time for you to get crazy. This is not the time for you to go and get yours and get your lick back,'" Phillips said.

On the city's West Side, the focus is similar.

"We're going to need everyone in order for this to be effective," Johnson said.

Johnson led Hickey on a walk through West Garfield Park.

He said his group also zeros in on the victims and their families - encouraging them to keep their cool.

"The people that are most invested are going to be in the hospital," Johnson said. "Usually, the people, their emotions are going to be high, but there's always a sensible person in the room."

But Johnson said his organization only has 10 outreach workers in West Garfield Park. Phillips said his group only has seven in Auburn-Gresham.

And that's after a $7.5 million in investment awarded to community-based organizations In April.

Autry said that investment translated to two more outreach workers for them. But in this summer of escalating violence, they could use more.

"We need the county to come in," he said. "We need everybody to buy in to what it is that we're doing."

The City of Chicago's 2020 budget did include a seven-fold increase in funding for community-based public safety compared to last year, totaling $11.5 million.

As to the response to the shooting Tuesday night at 79th and Carpenter streets, Hickey is told there was a conference call Tuesday afternoon where many of these nonviolence organizations discussed creating a closer relationship specifically with funeral home directors.

They called for more communication when they know they are hosting a victim of gun violence so these outreach workers can be on alert.

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