Springfield youth stand up against the recent violence

(Associated Press)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Concerned Springfield residents are looking for answers Thursday night after a recent increase in gun violence.

At an open forum at Chestnut Middle School, one hundred people brainstormed ways to reduce gun violence in Springfield. Many agree the city needs more after school activities and jobs for Springfield’s youth.

In the last two weeks, an 18-year-old and a 23-year-old were two of the three people shot and killed on Springfield streets. People believe the cycle of gun violence among city youth can and should be stopped.

Kalasha Garcia told 22News, “I have kids and I can’t even take a walk to the park with them nowadays. Everything happens in broad daylight, nighttime. It just doesn’t matter any more and it’s scary.”

Javier Cintron said, “I was terrible, being a leader in something, you know, dealing with guns, dealing with drugs, and now to come to see, come to realization, it’s a problem. It’s time to say no.”

They want young people to know that their lives don’t have to involve guns, drugs and other illegal activities. Many people admit, issues surrounding gun violence will not disappear overnight, but they hope even one person standing up against street crimes will make a difference.

Parents suggested accessible after school programs would keep kids on the right path toward higher education and jobs. Forum organizer Armando Olivares told 22News it’s heartbreaking to see young people, people his age, dying because of street crime.

Olivares wants parents to get more involved in their children’s lives. “Parents should develop a strong, trustworthy relationship with a child so they can begin to know where their children are, what they are doing. I think the foundation of a relationship between a parents and child is trust.”

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