KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Gun violence has increased in Knoxville over the past several years. A number of young adults and teens have been killed, prompting some grassroots organizations to step up in an effort to fight gun violence, and one organization has just been awarded money from the city so that it can continue its mission.

Turn Up Knox has partnered with the City of Knoxville and SEEED Knox to form community-based violence intervention and prevention initiatives.

The city just awarded them several thousand dollars to help guide them in the right direction in an effort to make our city safer.

Denzel Grant is the Executive Director of Turn Up Knox.

He said, “We’ve had a lot of gun violence transpiring over the past few years, about five or six years, and finally we just want to come up with a program to take that initiative” He adds, “the goal is to pretty much interrupt a lot of the gun violence that’s going on within the inner city. “

Those who participate in the organization are called “Interrupters.”

They’re trying to break the cycle of violence through community engagement and preach forgiveness, not revenge when gun violence does happen in the community.

Grant stated, “A lot of it’s going to be boots on the ground, getting a hold of those certain individuals who we feel like may be at high risk.”

The groundwork has already been set. Volunteers are already active in different areas of town.

The city just awarded Turn Up Knox 450 thousand dollars at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Grant said some of that money will allow volunteers to get paid for their efforts,

“This is going to be a risky task. The people who are coming in realize that it’s going to be a risk and I thought it was necessary to put the right people in that position.”

The city council also voted to begin the application process for a $1.5 million federal grant to help with the violence prevention program.

Not everyone at Tuesday’s City Council meeting is on board with how the money would be distributed.

City Council member Amelia Parker said, “What I see are investments being made, using the black community as a reason to make the investments, but then when we look at the outcomes, the black community is not who is being served.”

Grant said Turn Up Knox’s goal is to be an organization that works directly with the community. This money will help them continue to try and make Knoxville a safer place.

“Our next step is planning, putting ourselves out there, adding to the community by in that we already have,” Grant stated. 

Along with the intervention program, Turn Up Knox wants to help with case management and create mentorship programs for Knoxville’s youth.

We should mention that there are organizations like this one in other cities, including Chicago.
Grant said he’s met with some of their leaders to get some ideas to grow the program here in Knoxville.