By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – An intervention program designed to stop disagreements from turning deadly is expanding its footprint in St. Paul.

The Truce Center opened up shop back in 2019 to help interrupt deadly gang violence plaguing the community. Starting Saturday, the Truce Center East will be dedicated to give young people in East St. Paul the same opportunity to put down the guns.

READ MORE: Paul Pfeifer Dies After Being Hit By Car In Brooklyn Park

“We’re losing too many,” said Miki Lewis. His desire to put an end to the deadly disagreements goes beyond the community he calls home.

“I wanted to be able to come and fight this issue over here on the east side of St Paul. These kids don’t have an outlet to go to release some of the tension they’re having with each other so I wanted to create a space where these kids were right in their own neighborhood,” Lewis said.

A new facility near the corner of Case Avenue East and Payne Avenue will look and feel a lot like the Truce Center on Selby Avenue and Lexington Parkway in the old Rondo neighborhood.

The center also houses artifacts from Africa, the reconstruction era and the civil rights movement, which are designed to educate and inspire all who walk through the door.

“There are plenty of young guys out here that really don’t want to go through their situation. They just don’t have nobody to come in and step up and say ‘look, you know, I’ll help you guys get out of this,’” Lewis said.

READ MORE: Chaska Man Seriously Injured In Water Ski Crash

Lewis believes his model of mediating beefs between individuals or groups is making an impact.

Just on Thursday night, two young men who grew up with each other but are in rival gangs were about to square off, until Lewis stepped in.

“It was an awkward moment. They had to look at each other, like wow this is what we are really doing? You know they put those guns down they talked it out, we walked around a bit and they managed to shake hands and the situation was over with and that’s what this whole Truce Center is designed to do,” said Lewis.

It’s designed to help people involved in street life make better decisions so they can have a future.

Volunteers serve as mentors and teachers. They serve meals and host sessions focused on conflict resolution and leadership.

MORE NEWS: Minor Injuries For Pilot Who Crashed In Columbus, Sheriff's Office Says

For more information about opportunities to help, click here.

Reg Chapman