IN 2011 Donya Smith was at his mothers place when he heard a noise outside. He remembers it sounded like an argument, or a scuffle, and was concerned because his little brother was hanging out in front of the house. As the eldest of three, Donya commanded the respect of his little brothers, and he looked out for them in return. Whatever was happening outside, he didn’t want his little brothers to be hurt.
Donya is an interrupter with Ceasefire, an organization that tries to combat gun violence through direct intervention. Many interrupters are former gang members, or have deep connections in their communities that allow them access not afforded to legislators, law enforcement, or the press. Interrupters try to stop potentially violent conflicts by intervening before fists fly or shots ring out.