You can donate to help support this group HERE.
For the community of Charlottesville, Virginia, gun violence is an ongoing concern, but now a group has emerged that’s aiming to do something about it.
The B.U.C.K. Squad — B.U.C.K. stands for Brothers United to Cease the Killing, is described in an NBC 29 story as “a program aimed at stopping gun violence in New York City” that now has champions in Charlottesville.
One of its leaders, Pertelle Gilmore, noted that in 2014, his son killed someone, and that murder resulted in the murder of his brother a week later.
“Being older and having the pain of losing my brother, my son Jamarcus, and a lot of other guys who I’ve buried, you know, in the last year, it was a catalyst for change inside myself,” he explained, discussing the origins of his involvement.
The December 2020 shooting death of a 32-year-old led to the B.U.C.K. Squad being formed earlier this year.
As Charlottesville Tomorrow wrote, “The B.U.C.K. Squad started in January by simply giving out their personal phone numbers to people in Charlottesville’s predominantly Black neighborhoods — where most of the shootings were happening — and asking people to call if they thought one was imminent. The calls came immediately.”
While the group had immediate impact — the article reports that “within a week, the team stopped several would-be shootouts by just showing up and talking people down” — the group was operating on its own without the training needed to mediate consistently. The article also notes that “in late January, one of the novice mediators was nearly shot,” and that’s when the nascent group needed help.
They got that in the form of Marcus McAllister, a “world-renowned trainer in a type of violence prevention being practiced by organizations in some of the most violent neighborhoods in the country,” according to Charlottesville Tomorrow.
“You get people from the community who have lived experiences in these communities and you teach them how to pay attention to the warning signs that violence will erupt,” McAllister said. “Then you follow up and teach them how to mediate and use conflict resolution skills.”
His training includes having community members spot the signs that lead to outbreaks of violence — something as simple as one person disrespecting another can have an effect on community violence.
“The little things is what leads to multiple shootings,” McAllister noted.
While Gilmore has been able to get B.U.C.K. Squad to be a chapter of an NYC-based non-profit, Guns Down, Inc., and has generated $36,000 in donations, he has goals in mind for the group’s next steps.
“We need to be fully funded,” he noted. “I need to get enough money to pay my guys, to make this their full-time jobs. That’s how we make this successful long term.”