Community rallies youth to stop the violence - WSMV News 4

Community rallies youth to stop the violence

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A month after a North Nashville teen was killed, the community came together to stop the violence.

Demarcus Ellis was shot and killed inside his Vanderhorst Drive home Sept. 20. Metro police believe the suspected gunman came to Ellis' home for drugs. Tonight, hundreds gathered at Watkins Park to keep other teens from going down the same path.

There was plenty of toe tapping and foot stomping in North Nashville this weekend, but there was a purpose for this party.

"We hope to get the good news, the word, about just living about making the right choices," promoter Willie Young explained.

Members of "Crunk for Christ" ministry hosted a teen summit Sunday, to put an end to the violence. Organizers put together the event just weeks after 17-year-old Demarcus Ellis, a senior at Hillsboro High School was shot to death in his home. Police believe it was all over drugs.

"Everybody is just trying to show our young kids that there's more to street life or gang life. It's something positive," Young added.

Hundreds of kids and their parents piled into Watkins Park Community Center to hear the word. One of the guest speakers was former Los Angeles gang member Dwayne Harris.

"I'm here to tell them that if you join there's only two ways out, penitentiary and death," Harris warned.

Harris spent more than 15 years with the Bloods and knows the pitfalls of life on the streets. His sons were both killed - victims of gang violence.

"I don't want another kid to go through that. I want a kid to have someone to talk to ... they need a lot of more positive people in their lives and give them hope," Harris said.

Harris' message is one echoed by many teens like Sayyid Love.

The 17-year old senior at Martin Luther King High School explained, "Unfortunately there aren't a lot of outlets for young black males in the community and I think they're looking for unity and brotherhood."

Love's schoolmate Jayla Jackson said, "It's really difficult for kids to stay out the streets and feel like they have a person to go to."

But thanks to events like Sunday's summit, Young hopes kids in the community will have new places to turn.

"We've gotta take back our kids," Young said.

Organizers plan to hold another youth summit in December.

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