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About StreetBeefs

After his friend was shot Christmas Eve 2013, Chris Wilmore — known as Scarface — began recruiting for his backyard fight club, as a way to encourage people to settle disputes with gloves, not guns.

HARRISONBURG, Va. — Chris Wilmore was devastated after his close friend was shot to death on Christmas Eve in 2013, in a dispute over a woman.

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Mr. Wilmore, known in his Harrisonburg, Va., neighborhood as Scarface, has his own history with weapons and crime, but he began thinking of ways to squash the gun violence plaguing his community.

He started actively recruiting people with “beefs” to put on boxing gloves and take their arguments off the streets and into his backyard fight club, where he films the action and a referee calls a winner. He says that most of the disputes are settled once and for all there, with most fighters developing a new respect for the other. “There are certain people, that’s how they’re wired,” he says. “They’re gonna fight no matter what I do. The only difference is at least with me, they are fighting in a yard with gloves, a referee, and regulations.”

Mr. Wilmore says his method of conflict resolution appeals to a lot of people in his community, many of whom feel alienated by the legal system.

Officials with the Harrisonburg Police Department say they have not received any reports of problems from the fight club, although the department does not consider Mr. Wilmore’s strategy to be a viable violence reduction solution nor does it condone his homegrown approach.

In this short documentary, “Guns to Gloves,” video journalists Stuart Harmon and Matteo Minasi ride along with Mr. Wilmore over a weekend as he tries to convince two men to settle their dispute over money. As he searches the streets looking for the men, he worries, “These two, out of everybody that I’ve ever solved a beef with, these will be the two that it needs to get solved with. Because they will hurt each other.”

 

FIGHT MEDIATION, STOPPING GUN VIOLENCE, STOP SENSELESS KILLINGS, and from guns to gloves

 

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