For years, anti-gang activist Leon Kelly has been keeping a list of those killed in gang violence. His list is growing. Since November, there have been 15 gang-related murders and several other shootings -- many of them in northeast Denver.
Kelly, who runs Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives, has been meeting with a group known as "The Council," made up representatives from different gangs. He's trying to broker a truce. And the Denver police are putting an extra $500,000 toward reducing gang violence and federal officials are paying to install video cameras in Denver neighborhoods where gangs are battling.
Kelly spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner. Here are highlights from their conversation:
On gentrification pushing gangs onto each others' turf
"The blacks and the Hispanics could co-exist because they had a little bit of room. They had blocks separating things. Now that we see this new flow of folks coming in buying property, and it seemed like property value over in that neighborhood is really skyrocketing and gone up, it's compressing some of these guys that feel like they are losing their identities.
"Even some of the local parks used to be claimed as one group's or the other's. Now you've got little strollers, little dog parks, you've got things like that coming in. It's sort of pushing some of them out. Not to blame white folks for the issue, it's just one of the contributors from what I've seen."
On social media amplifying violence
"They talk about the type of violence they are going to do. And when you talk about, 'I'm going to blow your head up. I'm going to put three slugs in your face. The type of violence that's being orchestrated on Facebook ... A lot of my kids have trouble separating what is reality and what is fantasy. And it's one thing to talk about crazy things on Facebook. It's another thing to have a weapon in your hand and have the opportunity to follow up. ... It's pumping everything up."
On how his organization tries to broker peace
"The whole thing is, 'Stand down. Stay out the way.' And when we use the term 'stay out the way,' we mean don't be congregating to make yourself an easy target. Stay out the way while we try to make adjustments on the other side."