ONLY ON 3: Former gang leader finds job, what's next to stop the - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

ONLY ON 3: Former gang leader finds job, what's next to stop the violence

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - After a group of self-proclaimed gang members organized a meeting to end Chattanooga's gun violence, they're seeing results.   

The meeting was initiated to stop nonsense violence. After several October shootings and shooting deaths, people who are affiliated with gangs or group members said enough is enough.

They asked for help, saying the violence will be reduced if jobs become available.
    
At the meeting, Norman Williams said he was given job applications and other opportunities to get his life back on track.

"This is a permanent job, it's a warehouse job," Williams said.     

Williams said his job as a gang leader is in the past. Now he wants to be a leader for turning his life around.

"I'm so much happier," Williams said, "I'm so much happier, but I can also be so much happier."
     
Williams is only one of many who have been looking for work and to leave the gang life.  
     
But he says there's always that one thing that holds them back.

"Once again, that's going to take us back to the convicted felons," Williams said.
     
His fiance got a job last week, but not all employers are willing to overlook a troubled past.

"And after the orientation, around 7 or 8 o'clock they called and said we saw you got off probation for a theft charge in 2007," Williams said, "They're not letting her work."
     
Williams reached out to Chattanooga's Violence Reduction Initiative and the program connected him and his friends with several willing employers.

"We're asking companies to look at what they're bringing to the table now," said Chattanooga Public Safety Coordinator Paul Smith, "And the skills that they're bringing, and the drive that they have to make it right."
     
The VRI hotline teaches interview skills and job training.

Paul Smith works with the city on public safety. He says above all, those looking to move forward need initiative.

"Norman is one who advocated for himself and got his own job," Smith said, "And that's what we need to empower guys to do."
     
Williams is no longer a gang leader but he still has friends in that circle.
     
He's hoping his message for success will reach them before it's too late.

"I talk to these guys every day. Every day," Williams said, "Ever since the meeting... they see what's going on."
Williams organized another "Stop the Violence" event, this one tailored for children in the community.

It's call the "Every Child's Birthday Bash" happening Saturday, Nov. 15, 2 p.m. - 6 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club in Chattanooga.

Williams hopes all children and families come to the event. It's free and there will be a 3 on 3 basketball tournament, poem and essay contests, music and food.  

 To reach someone with the Violence Reduction Initiative, The V-R-I Hotline is (423) 805- 8320.

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