Countless feats of heroism describe this pillar of the community, Clifford Ryan. Clifford risks life and limb daily to save lives in his Syracuse community as a dedicated leader. He is a father and grandfather, and a veteran of the US Army.
He has faced trauma himself after the tragedy of Duriel Lamar Ryan, his son, over twenty years ago. At only seventeen years old, Duriel was walking away from a heated argument with a peer who threatened his life with a gun. Duriel was shot in the back of the head, ending his life and changing Clifford’s forever.
The now duty-bound Clifford Ryan responded to this tragedy with a hope to make lasting change that will prevent others from losing a child like he did. He immediately began to speak out against violence and later studied the issue looking for resources, finding gaps in the system, and thought creatively about solutions
In 2015, he established OG’s Against Violence. His organization is based on supporting other anti-violence and anti-poverty organizations in the community and reaching out to those doing the violence. To achieve these goals, he started walking through neighborhoods where violence occurred. On his walks he stops to talk to the young men and women he sees about conflict resolution strategies and the problem of violence. He attends vigils and memorials for violence victims, giving a calming presence. He also visits schools, youth programs, and attends events as a speaker to tell his story and talk about advocacy against violence.
By being present in the community he earned the honorable title of “OG” from the residents. He signified this title as Our Generation. He continues to grow the mutual respect between himself and the community. Since 2015, Clifford Ryan has intervened to prevent over forty-two shootings and stopped over three-hundred fights, putting himself at risk each time. Clifford uses the honor and respect he has earned from the community to effectively convince people to stand down without losing face. This respect is vital to de-escalation and violence interruption. Through violence interruption efforts Clifford has been a victim of violence himself, he has been stabbed in the neck during one encounter at a memorial service, nearing taking his life.
Today, Clifford's organization, OG’s Against Violence, Inc. is a Non-profit 501(c)(3) Corporation. It is now poised to grow with community support to stop the violence. Clifford works tirelessly with little compensation and financial backing driven only by love and optimism.