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Minneapolis Temporarily Sidelines 'Violence Interrupters'; Group Now Seek Outreach Centers

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A group brought together to walk the streets of Minneapolis in order to prevent violence is now on the sidelines, just four weeks after being introduced to the public.

City officials say the Minneapolis Violence Interrupters is scaling back because of weather in order to conduct training.

But WCCO's Reg Chapman reports the men and women who wear orange shirts are hoping for help to get troubled young people into a better place.

Interrupters consultant Jamil Jackson says they were asked to step back during the election season.

"With the protestors and things, since we had some run-ins a little in the past, so we were asked to kind of take a step back during this time and get this passed us and then we will be back out," Jackson said.

He says group members will be visible only when requested at special or small events.

RELATED: Minneapolis Violence Interrupters Could Stop Crime Before It Happens, But Neighbors Want Immediate Solutions To Uptick In Violence

The city's Office of Violence Prevention says team leaders will be focusing more time and attention on training and planning from December through March. Jackson says what's needed is a slight change in the way the group operates.

"Trying to secure some locations where youth can come to us where we can service them in our spaces, as opposed to us being out on the corners," Jackson said.

He feels the program can and is working, but space is needed to help more young people break the cycle of violence.

"We had a lot of youth who were really interested in what we had to say, but because of peer pressure they were finding it hard to pull away from their friends to speak their truth, and that's why we are pushing heavy with the city to give us the spaces," he said.

Jackson admits there were problems in the beginning with getting boots on the ground and organizations on board with the city's plan to address the uptick in violence.

"I do like some of the stuff that I'm hearing from both sides now. It's just figuring out how to pull both sides together," Jackson said.

He believes it will take everyone working together to get the shooting to stop.

Mayor Jacob Frey's office says the 2020 revised budget included funds for a pilot program. While ongoing support is anticipated, the city will also use the coming months as an opportunity to evaluate the initial work.

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