Violence Interrupter (Central Oakland)
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Most days, YA! Violence Interrupter Jaime Oseguera checks in on his mom and dad. They still live in the Oakland neighborhood where Jaime grew up. “I had a case out there earlier this week,” he says. It involved a younger generation. “I know their cousins and uncles. Everybody knows everybody. It’s easier for people to trust you when they know you’re from the area.” Jaime is Youth ALIVE!’s Central Oakland-based Violence Interrupter, part of a team of Interrupters with members assigned to the areas of the city they know best, and where the people know them. As a Violence Interrupter, Jaime mediates conflicts before the guns come out. When violence does happen, he meets victims and families, to assess, with urgency, their ongoing safety, to offer alternatives to retaliation, to re-locate if necessary, and to help them begin to heal their trauma. Jaime lost a cousin to violence in Oakland when they were both 15. Jaime didn’t want the same thing to happen to him, to break his own mom’s heart. “I was a knucklehead growing up,” he says. “We all were. But I got my stuff together.” Having a daughter was his biggest motivation, he says.
Now he‘s a crucial member of a team of men and women who save lives. He was installing car stereos when his old friend and Fremont High classmate, YA! Lead Violence Interrupter Juan Cortez, approached him about joining the team. Juan appreciated Jaime’s strong communications skills. Still, Jaime says talking to victims and survivors is the hardest part of his job. You’ve got to be very careful. “They’re going through some stuff,” says Jaime. “You gotta pull them aside, talk one-on-one, to get their full attention.” But once the barriers are broken down, he loves listening, finding out what really happening. And that he can do something to help. “I love that I can give something back to the community, the way I wasn’t helped when I was growing up, with somebody to guide me in the right direction.” It’s something we hear a lot from our Youth ALIVE! Violence Interrupters and Intervention Specialists, who wish there had been someone like Jaime to mentor and guide them when they were young. Like Jaime, they are committed to serving in that role for today’s young generations and generations to come.