Group works to quell violence in Hartford's North End

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A once violent part of Hartford was showing signs of peace.

Residents said they've been taking action to stop the violence in the North End.

"People hear the North End, they just start shaking," said Lebert Lester of It's a G Thing Barber Salon.

Lester said a nervous feeling some have about that part of Hartford is due to the reputation it has as one of the most violent neighborhoods in the capital city.

"You have people who care about their properties," he said. "You have people who are actually living here. There's just a small minuet segment of people who are causing the problem."

That smallest segment of people was responsible for the 2001 shooting of 7-year-old Takira Gatson, according to police.

"We can't arrest our way out of this," said Andrew Woods of Hartford Communities that Care.

Woods and Lester were part of a growing movement to try and quell the violence. It started with the launch of HCTC.

"At the time there was a lot of shootings among kids under the age of 18," Woods said.

Woods said that part of stopping the violence first called for partnering with police, local schools and getting teens off the streets.

"We have grown from an after school program to a full service organization that provides a range of other services including crisis intervention, school and community based programs," he said.

HCTC also created a violence-free zone. Woods said that involved walking the streets and identifying issues before they turn violent. It begins along Main Street and Cleveland Avenue and stretches to Main Street and Capen Streets. It covers a 24-block area.

"We're minimizing the violence," said Lester. "But it's not going to happen overnight."

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