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The Negotiators A co-production with Doha Debates

From Gang Member to Gang Mediator


An “interrupter” tells her story about preventing violence on the streets of Chicago.

On the show this week, we hear from a former gang member in Chicago who became an interrupter—a person who intervenes in potentially violent situations to prevent people from getting killed. 

Ameena Matthews was born into violence. Her father ran a gang, and her brother was killed on the streets of Chicago. 

Eventually, she left that world and joined a group called CeaseFire. The idea was simple: Former gang members used their street cred to mediate conflicts between warring factions. 

Matthews is now the executive director of Pause for Peace, an anti-violence organization, and a congressional candidate for Illinois’s 1st District. 


About The Negotiators:  Conflicts don’t just get resolved on their own. Most are settled through a grueling process of give and take, usually behind closed doors. On the new podcast The Negotiators, Foreign Policy is teaming up with Doha Debates to put listeners in the room. Hosted by FP deputy editor Jenn Williams, each episode will feature one mediator, diplomat, or troubleshooter, describing one dramatic negotiation. You’ll hear about a nuclear standoff, a hostage crisis, a gang mediation, and much more: successes and failures that shaped people’s lives.  See All Episodes

More The Negotiators episodes:

Just How Close Did Israelis and Palestinians Come to a Peace Deal in 2008?

Khaled Elgindy, a former advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team, provides an insider’s account of the Annapolis talks.

Inside the Secret Talks That Led to a U.S. Prisoner Exchange With Iran

An NGO orchestrated the 2019 deal when relations between the two countries were at their lowest point. 

Inside the Grueling Negotiations That Led to the Iran Nuclear Deal

As the U.S. tries to restore the agreement, one of its architects, Wendy Sherman, describes how it came about.

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