YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown Community Initiative to Reduce Violence partnered with the Youngstown Police Department to put together an event focusing on peace early Saturday.
In response to the recent uptick in gun violence in the community, organizations are coming together to promote peace – but what is actually being done by those in power to curb gun violence?
Participants spoke about the violence at the Increase the Peace Family Day event at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre.
“I don’t believe that the average Youngstown citizen wants it, the city, to be known for its murders,” said NOW Youngstown vice president and pastor Cornell Jordan.
This year, twenty people have been killed because of gun violence. Twenty candles were lit to represent the lives of the victims.
“Many people don’t know that, but that is a huge, huge number. In fact, even one is too many,” Jordan said.
He said it’s important for the community to join organizations like his to come together and try to put an end to the violence.
“We just want to be able to say our to community that Youngstown is better than that, now Youngstown is all about bringing people together, organizations together, that are really about trying to give hope to our city,” Jordan said.
NOW Youngstown president Stephanie McKelvey said there is a long way to go to address gun violence in the city, but events like this are the first step.
“I think it’s helping plant seeds and I think as time goes on, more people will get connected,” McKelvey said.
While she said it certainly isn’t an immediate overnight change it will take time to spread the message of peace.
The group hosts increase the peace rallies every Tuesday during the summer but this event was on a much larger scale.
“I mean, this is the city of YOU, like you and me, us. We do this together, black, white, hispanic… all of us coming together, just trying to do better for our communities, for our families, that’s what it’s all about,” Jordan said.
In the two hours that we were at the event, we did not find any officers to talk to about what they’re doing to curb gun violence in the city.
We reached out to YPD and are awaiting response.