The neighborhood violence prevention program Safe Streets employs reformed offenders to stop the cycle of violence by acting as credible messengers to mediate dangerous situations on the street before they become violent.
Nathan “Bodie” Barksdale was a Mondawmin Safe Streets worker and self-proclaimed inspiration for the Avon Barksdale character on HBO’s “The Wire.” Last week, U.S. Marshals arrested Nathan Barksdale on drug and gun charges. Barksdale remains in federal custody, and was not accused of involving Safe Streets in any illegal activity.
Safe Streets’ violence interrupters get through to potential participants because they are from the neighborhoods they canvass and have similar backgrounds and can access people at street level that would be inaccessible to police or other social workers. Mondawmin Safe Streets fired Barksdale when he failed to show up for work on Nov. 25, the week he was arrested.
The Baltimore Sun quoted Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as saying, “We know that Safe Streets works. I am not going to let one person destroy that progress.”