The Interrupters tells the moving and surprising story of three “violence interrupters” in Chicago who with bravado, humility and even humor try to protect their communities from the violence they once employed.
Shot over the course of one year, The Interrupters are: Ameena, Cobe and Eddie, all who have stories and histories of violence and gang activity. These “violence interrupters” (their job title) use their own personal experiences and street credibility to work in the communities, interjecting where violence is prone to erupting and working with families to stop the infection and spread. Their work and their insights are informed by their own journeys, which, as each of them point out, defy characterisation.
Founded by Gary Slutkin, an epidemiologist who has worked throughout America and the world battling diseases such as cholera and AIDS, CeaseFire works on the principle that the spread of violence mimics that of infectious diseases, and so the treatment should be similar: go after the most infected, and stop the infection at its source.
Their work is fraught with moral dilemmas. They have to step between adversaries, often people they know. They need to acknowledge people’s grievances while simultaneously pulling them back from acting on them. As they venture into their communities, they confront the importance of family, the noxious nature of poverty, and the place of race. And they do it with incredible candour and directness.