Men Creating Peace Executive Director, Devon Gaster, addresses a class of men participating in a workshop for those seeking healthy relationships and personal growth. Photo by John Marshall

Program holds abusers accountable

Men Creating Peace helps men confront violence in relationships

By Kyiakhalid Ruiz

Devon Gaster, executive director of “Men Creating Peace,” says the organization is “pretty much an open book. We want people to know about our program.”

As Gaster arranges desks into a circle for the weekly meeting in a Laney classroom, he describes the necessity of the Men Creating Peace program.

Men Creating Peace is a program headquartered in downtown Oakland. Its mission is to work with men to “create peace in their lives,” and is built on the restorative justice model of domestic violence resolution.

For the last 10 years, Men Creating Peace has held meetings at Laney College on Wednesdays from 6–8:30 p.m.

Gaster likes Laney College for its central location and because rooms always seem to be available. They also hold classes in Berkeley on Saturdays.

Laney recognized the potential of hosting a program intended to break the cycle of violence.

Gaster was invited to speak at a Laney conference during Domestic Violence Month in October 2007.

Laney recognized the potential of hosting a program intended to break the cycle of violence and extended an invitation to Men Creating Peace to host the group at the school.

The model of restorative justice that Men Creating Peace practices teaches that many conflicts are the result of a dynamic in the “Male-Role Belief” system where one partner assumes the “superior” role and the other partner is put into the subservient “inferior” role.

When the partner in the superior role feels embarrassed or disrespected by the inferior partner, they feel they need to reassert their superior position, often with violence.

Many of the enrollees are court-mandated to attend the weekly meetings. 
At the meetings, men learn tools to overcome abusive patterns of behavior, including physical, mental, and emotional abuse.

The event is a celebration of the ability of abusive men to change their behaviors.

New members must face their role in the situation. Program veterans help hold new members accountable and overcome their denial.

Victims and other community members are encouraged to participate in holding the offender accountable for his actions.

Men Creating Peace requires attendees with alcohol and drug problems to enroll in 12-Step programs to address their dependency.

The group is a non-profit that relies on attendee’s dues. But for Men Creating Peace to expand its mission, Gaster said they will need to expand their grant-writing and fundraising efforts.

On October 28, Men Creating Peace will host a 10-Year Anniversary celebration called “Jazzed Up For Peace” at Oakland’s Preservation Park from 6:30 to 10 p.m., featuring live jazz, Southern food and special guest speakers.

The event is a celebration of the ability of abusive men to change their behaviors.

For more information about the Men Creating Peace mission, visit mencreatingpeace.org or call (510) 730–0184.


Kyiakhalid Ruiz is a Tower Staff Writer. Email him at kyiakhalid@yahoo.com.