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'It Is A Safe Space No Matter What': Truce Center Hosts Peaceful Madden Tournament

MINNEAPOLS (WCCO) -- Younger fans know John Madden from Madden NFL, the video game series that sold more than 130 million copies.

On Wednesday, the Truce Center in St. Paul used the game's popularity to bring young people together for a peaceful Madden tournament.

Inside the Truce Center on Payne Avenue in St. Paul, a Minnesota legend, born in Austin, Minnesota, is being honored.

"This is our way of just trying to tell him thank you for all the years of entertainment," Miki Lewis, founder of Truce Center said.

It's also time for Lewis and his staff to help the young people who walked in the door, walk out with a better sense of self.

"When they come here, this is just a way for us to let them know that you come from royalty, come from greatness and it's just about tapping into these kids so that they can tap into their greatness," Lewis said.

"I know it is a safe space no matter what. It's east side people, it's Selby people, different gang members, we come from different walks and paths of life. We can come here and it doesn't matter, it's just two brothers playing the video game," Tyree Johnson said.

It's the love for this game that binds them all together.

"The Truce Center saved me from being locked up and possibly being dead out here in the streets," Johnson said.

Johnson knows first-hand the power of the Truce Center.

"Here goes a safe space where you can come if you are having some issues. Who are you having the issues with, let us be able, me and my staff, to go out and try and find those individuals involved and get them to come and sit down and you guys try and work it out over a game of Madden," Lewis said.

Lewis knows everything is data-driven.

The city of St. Paul recorded 38 homicides this year, a record-breaking number.

His work is hard to put into numbers, but this Madden tournament shows he is making an impact, one young person at a time.

"It's hard to produce data when you're out every day stopping people from killing each other and you are taking guns off the streets.  How you show the data for when two kids walk in here who were going to potentially do harm to each other, but they were able to come in here sit down and talk it out and that situation didn't turn volatile," Lewis said.

Lewis operates two different Truce Centers in two areas of St. Paul.

He hopes to continue settling disagreements among neighborhood groups to stop the gun violence plaguing the city.

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