Community members gather to discuss youth gun violence solutions

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TOLEDO, Ohio —Saturday afternoon, members of the community came together to discuss gun violence and its impact on inner-city youth, in a both virtual and in-person town hall, held by the city of Toledo and hosted by JoJuan Armour, who leads Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz’s gun violence reduction initiative.

The town hall follows a sharp increase in gun violence with regard to city youth, something brought on by the pandemic that isn’t unique to Toledo. Since the start of the pandemic, cities nationwide have seen a distinct, sharp increase in gun violence. Armour says that the city of Toledo has an important role to play in reducing gun violence, but it’s going to take a community and law enforcement collaboration to make that happen.

But he acknowledges residents’ concerns about the over-policing of Black communities, something Armour says isn’t a solution, rather hindrance to gun violence reduction efforts. One Toledo pastor says the Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association’s opposition of a law requiring officers to live in the city in which they serve prevents officers from building a better understanding of the community they serve, and could lead to a more toxic relationship between the city’s youth and law enforcement.

Among the potential solutions brought up during Saturday’s town hall, a proposal to expand extracurricular activities and provide transit services to them, an effort former Toledo City Council candidate Tony Dia says he’d be willing to support by, at no cost, repairing the vans of churches that’d be willing to provide the services.

Also in attendance, Toledo Fire and Rescue Chief Brian Byrd, Councilwoman Cerssandra McPherson, and Black Lives Matter activist Julian Mack, who says in order to make these necessary changes, the community has to be willing to meet these youth where they’re at.

Another meeting is planned for May 8th at Woodward High School. A specific time has yet to be determined.

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Jaden Jefferson

Jaden Jefferson

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