Violence Interrupter (West Oakland)
email@example.com | (510) 393-4564
Youth ALIVE! Violence Interrupter Omari Sinclair knows West Oakland. He knows its streets, its parks, its schools, its history of violence and its history of political and social activism. He remembers that Huey Newton always carried a newspaper with him. Huey would test Omari on vocabulary words and give him quarters to read the newspaper out loud. Omari grew up all over West Oakland, attended numerous grade schools there and then McClymonds High, where he was friends with Khadafy Washington, the murdered McClymonds’ student in whose memory Youth ALIVE!’s homicide response program, the Khadafy Washington Project, is named.
Omari’s job as part of Youth ALIVE!’s Violence Interruption team is to step in when violence threatens to flare or escalate, to keep lines of communication open when groups or guys are beefing, to offer alternatives, to solve problems before the guns come out. It’s the kind of service he could have used as a youth. Omari’s mom died when he was 15. There was no one around to help or council him in his grief. He ended up in the foster system and the justice system. And Omari admits he caused his share of trouble. Still, he says, while some kids dreamed of being athletes or astronauts, he dreamed of making a difference in his home town. “Growing up in the system,” he says, “I was always going to come back and help others in the same situation.”
Omari estimates that he lost between 7 and 10 friends and family to violence in Oakland every year. It took a toll. In his twenties, he started to turn things around in his own life, through music producing and promotion. Today he works with artists like Show Banga, Trap Union and Magazine. It’s the kind of thing many people aspire to do, but even with that, Omari says it’s his work as a Violence Interrupter that means the most. It is, he says, “one of those dream-type jobs for me.”