FBI Milwaukee
Public Affairs Officer Leonard Peace
(414) 489-3565
July 23, 2021

Victor Barnett Founder of Milwaukee’s Running Rebels Receives FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award

MILWAUKEE, WI—Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Robert E. Hughes of the Milwaukee Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is pleased to announce that Victor Barnett, the founder of Milwaukee’s Running Rebels Community Organization (RRCO), has received the nationally recognized FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for 2020.

It was 41 years ago when Victor Barnett saw that gangs were beginning to form in Milwaukee around 1980. Mr. Barnett wanted to provide something to deter youth and focus them in a more positive direction. He believed that the right relationships and activities would keep them from gangs, violence, substance abuse, and other negative behaviors. As a young man himself, at the time—19 years old, Mr. Barnett founded the Running Rebels Community Organization.

The program was initially started as organized basketball teams that incorporated not only the fundamentals of the game, but also the elements that translate into strengthening talent and character both on and off the court. Education has also played an important part in RRCO programming. Each player had to bring their report card so Mr. Barnett could personally see the areas in which they needed additional help. From those early years to present day, hundreds of young men have come to know Mr. Barnett as a mentor, a brother, and a friend.

Today, the Running Rebels Community Organization is co-managed by Victor and his wife Dawn Barnett and serves 2,500 youth annually.

The Director’s Community Leadership Award was established in 1990 by the FBI to publicly recognize the achievements of individuals and organizations that have gone above and beyond the call to service by making extraordinary contributions to their communities in the areas of civil rights, terrorism, cyber, drug, gang, or violence prevention and education. SAC Hughes is proud to present the DCLA award on behalf of FBI Director Christopher Wray, to the Running Rebels Community Organization for their significant impact on the young lives of thousands of teens in Milwaukee for more than four decades.