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Boston's 'Interrupters' Work To Prevent Violence 06:09
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Violence interrupters Arthur Kitty and Tony “Big Time” Seymore in front of the Mattapan branch of the Boston Public Library. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Violence interrupters Arthur Kitty and Tony “Big Time” Seymore in front of the Mattapan branch of the Boston Public Library. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

In both of WBUR's mayoral election polls this fall, Boston voters said public safety was one of the top issues facing the next mayor. But aside from traditional law enforcement efforts, what is being done to intervene and prevent violence?

In recent years, the city has turned to so-called "violence interrupters," people whose lives have been affected by violent crime and who are now working to stop violence before it starts.

Tony Seymore’s photo on a billboard over Mattapan Square is part of the $2 million campaign aiming to reduce gun violence and support high-risk youth and families. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Tony Seymore’s photo on a billboard over Mattapan Square is part of the $2 million campaign aiming to reduce gun violence and support high-risk youth and families. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

We went to Mattapan to meet with Tony "Big Time" Seymore, a 52-year-old violence interrupter who says he's learned from bad choices he made as a young man.

"Fifty-two armed robberies," Seymore said. "That's all I did was rob people."

Seymore works closely with Arthur Kitty. At 34, Kitty is no stranger to crime and spent nine years in prison for killing a man. He says he's spent the years since trying to make up for it.

"After that it was just a real cleansing process," Kitty said. "I've done everything I could do to try to counter my negative ways and actions. From that day forward, I made a commitment to walk a certain way.

We walked around the streets of Mattapan with Kitty and Seymore, where they were on the lookout for young people they could try to help make the positive choices when faced with tough life pressures.

This program aired on November 5, 2013.

Bob Oakes Twitter Host, Morning Edition
Bob Oakes has been WBUR's Morning Edition anchor since 1992.

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