“The Agape Movement is a third level of Agape that we started about 25 years ago,” said Steve Floyd in describing the newest version of the movement he helms. Through this program, Floyd works with men from the city with a history of gang violence and provides them with resources that equip them to not only grow as individuals but also effectively police and protect the community. He explained that his work involves “dealing with young men who’ve struggled to transform—people don’t just change overnight. But they’re really committed.”
For the past several months, Floyd (no relation to George Floyd) has taken the 38th and Chicago corridor under his wing in efforts to both build and protect the community. On October 15, he joined MSR Forefront to talk about the effort.
Floyd is well-known for his youth and gang advocacy work. As part of his philosophy, he stresses the importance of the word “agape’” as “an unconditional love, a love in action…showing the community how we should be amongst each other,” he explained. It is crucial to Floyd that participants in the Agape Movement adopt a critical understanding of agape and use it to deepen interactions with the community—“Turning street energy into community energy,” as Floyd calls it.
While the 38th and Chicago corridor has become a popular spot to memorialize, congregate, and build community, it has also become a hotspot for mischief and felonious activity. “People were coming into 38th for many reasons, whether that was to make money, take advantage of the spot,” Floyd shared. “People would come in, set up their stands, make money and you’d never see them again, no contribution to the community, no contribution to the [George] Floyd family.”
According to Floyd, people are also using the corridor, as a space to flee from criminal activity, because they know the police will likely not be present. “Part of what we are doing, is doing our own community policing…we don’t call the police unless there is a serious violent situation,” he explained.
Through verbal judo training, mediation training, de-escalation training and more, the Agape Movement has been instrumental in handling suspicious activity on various occasions. Floyd shared a story about a small group that robbed a nearby restaurant and fled into the 38th and Chicago corridor to hide and blend in with the crowd. Once confronted, the folks involved with the robbery fled the scene.
But playing the middleman or “buffer,” as Floyd calls it—between the cops and the community—does have its risks. Floyd shared another instance in which a group of protesters violently assumed members of the Agape Movement were affiliated with the local police department, resulting in threatening behavior against members of the movement. “Basically, our hearts were broken. Because we showed up to support them and protect and then they just, boom, came at us with what they thought they saw and caused a huge conflict,” Floyd shared.
But agape love is unconditional and with this spirit, the Agape Movement continues to protect George Perry Floyd, Jr. Place.
In the future, Floyd and his team have plans to expand their resources and influence in the community. “We do have an office on 3741 Chicago Ave. that we are remodeling. What we are setting up is a call-hotspot place. So that when things are happening in the community, they call us,” Floyd said.
Click above to watch the full MSR Townhall with Steve Floyd. For more on, the Agape Movement, go here www.theagapemovement.com.
The MSR will continue to shine a spotlight on the 38th Street corridor in future Forefront episodes.