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Violence intervention nonprofit celebrates progress in Northeast Oklahoma City

LiveFree OKC's Peacemakers posing together for a group photo
LiveFree OKC

The U.S. Surgeon General recently declared a national public health crisis over gun violence.

One Oklahoma City nonprofit is fighting to change outcomes in its community.

LiveFree OKC is a Community-Based Violence Intervention program based in Oklahoma City’s Eastside community. The organization’s leaders believe they’ve made a difference in their first year and they say the numbers bear that out. There have been three homicides in Northeast OKC this year. In 2023, there were 12 homicides in the area, according to police.

LiveFree OKC sends Peacemakers out to de-escalate situations using their personal experience and connections. Jabee Williams is the organization’s co-founder and previously hosted a show on The Spy. He said LiveFree OKC and its partner organizations are helping keep homicides down.

“I want to make a call for increased diligence among our partners to see this emerging summer of peace… through and to ensure it turns into a year of peace. And then that year of peace turns into another year of peace and beyond,” said Williams.

Brandon Banks is LiveFree OKC’s Lead Peacemaker. He said his generation made their fair share of mistakes when they were young, but now they’re preaching peace.

Banks said he works to make sure young people don’t let impulsive decisions end in violence or prison time.

“We talk to the younger generation, we try to talk to them about decision-making… Do not make decisions based off the emotion that you’re in at that moment, kind of go back, think about it, realize that it ain't as serious,” he said. “We try to give them all the game that we got at our age right now. Give it to them young so that they can evolve and be better than we are once they hit our age.”

Banks said the LiveFree OKC team is filling a role that the police can’t. He said the organization has a good relationship with law enforcement, but they work separately. The Peacemakers have access and tools the police don’t have. Banks said when he and his team show up to a tense situation, “one of us usually knows somebody somewhere.”

Banks said his dream for LiveFree OKC is to create a safer neighborhood where people are not worried about violence breaking out at community events.

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Cait Kelley is a summer intern at KOSU through the Scripps Howard Fund summer internship program.
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