June 4 march aims to be proactive against rising violence

Published 6:26 pm Tuesday, May 24, 2022

To be proactive rather than reactive, a Suffolk organization is stepping up against the rising violence in the city.

EFERM, Ex-Felon Entrepreneurship Retail Museum, is hosting a community march at noon on June 4, starting at its location at 444 N. Main St., to bring awareness to the recent wave of shootings in Suffolk.

The march will go to the Godwin Courts Building, 150 N. Main St., before returning to the museum, where there will be speakers and resources on how to put a dent in violent crime.

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“We want to bring awareness as this problem is more mental than physical,” said Amar Skinner, founder of EFERM. “We provide breakout tools to help people change their mindsets. They are mentally incarcerated before they are ever physically incarcerated.”

Once the marchers return to the museum, Skinner hopes to have some resources available, including a shipyard job fair and the Gun Buy Back Program. He is also arranging to have Suffolk police officers speak to help bridge the gap between police and citizens.

When Skinner, an ex-felon who served over 10 years in jail, got out in 2008, he wanted to make a positive change and prevent others from making the choices he had made. In 2011, he started Certified Development Coaching Group LLC in Portsmouth, which teaches felons and helps them have a second chance after incarceration. Being from Suffolk, he then brought EFERM to help his hometown.

“Police have to do what they have to do,” Skinner said. “What we have to do is bring awareness and prevent situations from getting to that point.”

EFERM has resources to “provide solutions to avoid incarceration tragedies and reduce crime.”

Knowing life experience is the best teacher, Skinner tells his story and how he wishes he had made different choices. His goal is to teach others how to properly react in situations that could turn deadly and how to see the humanity in others.

“I teach that you don’t have to react like that,” said Skinner. “It’s about thinking, not reacting. I also teach victim impact awareness because you can’t react violently if you see yourself in that person.”

To learn more about the organization, visit eferm.org.