It's a war without national boundaries, military uniforms or state-sanctioned weapons. But it is a war and an epidemic of violence raging on the streets of one of the largest U.S. cities.
Yet the shootings in Chicago often go ignored. PBS' gripping "Frontline: The Interrupters," airing Tuesday, Feb. 14 (check local listings), spent a year following those trying to stop the violence in Chicago.
The documentary is overly long, even after being cut 45 minutes, yet it is such an important topic that the film's problems can be forgiven. The easily offended should know the two-hour film contains foul language, but if one is going to be put off by anything here, it should be that people are being murdered in our streets.
"This is a state of emergency," the Rev. Jesse Jackson says. "This is what a war zone looks like."
The majority of the documentary, however, contains unfamiliar faces. And one whose visage lingers is Ameena Matthews, a senior Violence Interrupter who defuses potentially lethal situations. Her father, Jeff Fort, is a gang leader doing time, and she's done her share of illegal activity. Her background makes her relate to those in crisis.
"So just really for us to be credible messengers and in front of them, us showing that in using circumstances and situations from what happened when we reacted the same way, when someone disrespected our mom and disrespected our children, and the time that we spent away from our children and family in the penitentiary, or some people that got killed in the interval of a conflict back in the day," Matthews says, explaining why she reaches people.
Tio Hardiman, who created the Violence Interrupters in 2004, describes Matthews as "the 21st-century Harriet Tubman."
"You have to have fortitude, backbone, street savvy, professional training and everything to stop somebody from killing," he says, "because you have to have the ability to intercept whispers to get in, and you have to come from that lifestyle to a degree."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun