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Chicago Activist Aims To Replace Guns With Hammers To Reduce Gun Violence

11/14/2018, noon | Updated on 11/14/2018, noon
A local activist, Demetrius Nash, recently founded the nonprofit organization Replace Guns With Hammers as a way to reduce violence ...
Demetrius Nash (pictured) recently founded Replace Guns With Hammers, a nonprofit organization that aims to reduce violence in Chicago by giving young men an opportunity to work on a building renovation. Photo Credit: Provided by Demetrius Nash

Chicago Activist Aims To Replace Guns With Hammers To Reduce Gun Violence

BY KATHERINE NEWMAN

A local activist, Demetrius Nash, recently founded the nonprofit organization Replace Guns With Hammers as a way to reduce violence in Chicago’s most underserved communities. The goal of the organization is to give young men an opportunity to work on a building renovation as an alternative to committing violence.

“Replace Guns With Hammers came out of my grassroots knowledge of once being part of the problem and now I’m one of the faces of the solution,” said Nash. “I was at a community meeting and heard a lot of people saying that we needed to get the guns out of these kids hands and I literally stood up and said that I was not going to ask these young men to put down their guns and then have nothing to replace them with.”

From this seemingly small community conversation, the idea for Replace Guns With Hammers was born.

“It’s literally replacing a gun with a construction hammer in these young men’s hands. Regardless of what anyone says, in our community these guns represents protection, food, shelter, money, and clothing. Guns represent a lot of things to these young men and until we raise the quality of life in these communities they are not going to put down their guns,” said Nash.

Through this organization, Nash hopes to be able to engage young men, ages 18-24, who are at the highest risk of perpetrating gun violence and being victims of gun violence. The young men will serve as the workforce for vacant building renovations and as a result, they will have a positive outlet for their energy and an opportunity to

learn new skills that can help them to provide for their families.

“Replace Guns With Hammers is really about targeting young men that are currently in the streets and I’m talking about the shooters, not the kids that are gonna be alright. I’m talking about the kids that aren’t in school and they haven’t had any structure

in their life for a while. I want to get those men into the buildings,” said Nash.

Working on vacant buildings in their own communities and on their own blocks will create a greater sense of pride and a source of hope for these young men, according to Nash.

“Taking an abandoned building in their community and then making it beautiful and actually being part of that and working with their hands to build up the community will give them an incredible sense of accomplishment and achievement. It’s going to change their mindset and get them really thinking about the possibilities of what could be and what should be and how it should look in their own community,” said Nash.

Currently, Replace Guns With Hammers is just getting off the ground. Nash said he is in the process of securing the first building to be renovated and he is looking to connect with experienced renovators and is accepting donations to help buy construction materials.

To connect with Nash you can send him a direct message on facebook