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Syracuse launches S.N.U.G. to prevent gun violence

A neighborhood picnic at Syracuse's Wilson Park was the setting of the launch of a new program to prevent gun violence.
Syracuse (WSYR) - A neighborhood picnic at Syracuse's Wilson Park, just south of Downtown, was the setting for the launch of a new gun violence prevention program, as part of Syracuse TRUCE.

S.N.U.G. - which spells "guns" backwards - will recruit former gang members and those who've been involved in gun crimes, to become violence interrupters.

"The S.N.U.G. program is trying to prevent gun and gang violence at any level.  Stopping shootings and killings is our target. We try to reach out to shooters and victims of violence, hoping that if we get to the people who are perpetuating the violence in the community, it can end gun violence, " said S.N.U.G. program director Raheem Mack.

Mack is working with Mothers Against Gun Violence, the Comprehensive Gang Model, now known as Syracuse S.O.Y., the Syracuse Trauma Response Team and Syracuse TRUCE.

Last year, Syracuse TRUCE put gang members on notice, in response to an uptick in gang-related gun homicides.  Program director Sheria Dixon said TRUCE is making a difference on the streets of Syracuse and in the lives of former gang members who are accepting offers to help turn their lives around.

According to Dixon, several have gone off to school to further their education and the YMCA is partnering with TRUCE by offering the young men memberships and tutoring for their GED tests.

"We are helping them get drug counseling, get jobs, so you know it's baby steps, but each step is a step in the right direction, " said Dixon.

Syracuse Trauma Response Team director Timothy Jennings-Bey is also hopeful with the combined efforts and community support, Syracuse will continue to see a drop in gang related gun homicides.

"That's our goal to have zero homicides. We have a foot in the right direction. I got enough faith, we've got enough good people and people who care, of course 'CUSE Cares, that we could turn this around," said Jennings-Bey.

SNUG cards were handed out to families at the event that read "Don't Shoot. I want to grow up."

If you would like to help, or need help or would like more information about SNUG, call (315) 671-5818.

The number for Syracuse TRUCE is (315) 475-9712.
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