NEW YORK - Recent NYPD statistics show a 31.4% drop in shooting incidents between April 2023 and 2022, with the police department claiming to make historic numbers of gun arrests. And yet, activists say gun violence still has a destructive and long-lasting effect on our communities.
"A lot of us have people who have died from gun violence. A lot of us have been to many funerals that have to do with gun violence," Miranda Irizarry, member of My Brother's & Sister's Keeper Youth Council, said.
The council is run by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, with the aim to create a platform for young people that amplifies their voices.
"The biggest message that we are trying to put across is that young people should be a part of the conversation. A lot of these decisions about gun violence, the laws, the requirements, they're being made by older people or people who have already lived it or experienced it, but we are the ones who are in it right now," Aailiah Deabru, a member of the council, said.
This Saturday afternoon at Highland Park in Cypress Hills, these young people will be joined by leaders at education non-profit I WILL GRADUATE, a youth development program which encourages students to pledge to finish their education and set up a path for success in life.
"No one person or one group or organization can do it alone. Police department definitely can't do it alone," Tonya Lewis Taylor, founder of I WILL GRADUATE, said.
The Brooklyn borough president and other elected officials will be there too, to talk to students about the importance of positive decision making.
"Don't be afraid to share your own experiences and your own stories," Kehinde Oladiupo said. "Don't feel scared to talk to your elder ones."
Arnold Rudd, 20, who founded a boxing non-profit which aims to keep high schoolers engaged and off the streets, said giving young people something to do can be a solution.
"My program runs in 6 DOE schools to give kids a place to be, something productive to do," he said.
"The days where you say youth are the future of tomorrow, those days are over. I would say the youth are the future now," Ebube Nwaeme said.
Those affected by gun violence can also find resources that can help them at the community day, according to organizers.
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