Community and city leaders meet for open forum on fixing youth v - WSMV News 4

Community and city leaders meet for open forum on fixing youth violence

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After a night of violence in Music City, community and city leaders came together Saturday morning for an open forum on how to fix it.

So far this year, five juveniles have been killed.

One mother knows that painful loss all too well. Her daughter was among the Nashville youth lost to gun violence in 2017.

Sahtika Begley is making it her mission to speak out against senseless acts of violence in memory of her daughter.

“I want justice for my baby,” said Begley. “This changed my life. In five more days, it'll be five months since my daughter has been dead.”

Begley's 16-year-old daughter Deberianah was caught in the crossfire of a shooting at James A. Cayce Homes back in October. Begley has an opinion as to why we are seeing more teen violence in Nashville.

“It starts in the homes of these juveniles,” she explained. “The mothers need to be more involved in their kid's lives to show them this is not the way to the role of success.”

Earl Jordan with Partners In The Struggle Inc. believes real change starts with relationships and mentoring.

On Saturday, Jordan's organization hosted a community engagement meeting, where residents had a chance to speak one-on-one with city leaders.

“We’ve had far too many lives taken,” said Jordan. “I believe we have a lot of kids in our community who are angered, frustrated. They don't know how to deal with certain conflict. Put a gun into that equation, here we go with the violence.”

Among those in attendance was Mayor Megan Barry. She believes one of the solutions to curbing youth violence starts with putting more resources toward Pre-K programs.

She also doubled down on her Opportunity NOW program aimed at getting youth involved in internships and jobs.

“We got to focus on the kids before they ever get that gun, and we’re working on that,” said Barry.

She also talked about how Metro Nashville police added 70 new officers last year, and 20 officers were put on foot patrol in communities.

“In 2017, we took 5,402 guns off the street,” said Barry. “In 2018, we’ve taken 428 guns off the street so far.”

North precinct commander Terrence Graves said they need the communities help finding the criminals responsible.

“We have to overcome that fear, and we have to start telling on them. The no snitching thing isn't helping the good folks,” said Graves. “People don't want to tell us what happened. I believe if you had a lot more people willing to witness against folks, we'd be able to have a stronger case and put them away much longer.”

The city is implementing Shot Spotter technology that helps detect where shots are being fired. It allows for quicker response and for shots fired calls that slip through the cracks.

As for Begley, she still has a son she's working hard to protect.

“I don't want the streets to catch him. I don't want him to be killed to gun violence. I want him to do the right thing. We are both suffering.”

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