‘Will you listen?’ | Teens push for solutions to gun violence at youth-led town hall

Charlotte teens had a seat at the table with city and county leaders to discuss youth violence Thursday night.

Thursday night, a youth-led town hall brought city and county leaders together with teens in the community to discuss youth crime and gun violence.

Charlotte City Council member Tiawana Brown said they wanted to not talk about kids or talk at kids, but they wanted to listen with no judgment and no interruptions.

The meeting started with a moment of silence for Jaselyn Horne, who lost her life after a fatal shooting at the Cookout on Sunset Road last week.

“My peers facing are moralized under the glare of candlelight and the weight of balloons,” Charlotte teen Zara Mushinge said.

Horne’s death was just one example to start the youth-led discussion about gun violence. While some kids spoke out about change, others spoke about living in fear.

They said kids are crying for help … but who’s helping?

“I’m sick and tired of giving flowers to mothers and having lingering thoughts of hanging out at this party might be our last,” Lauren Kennedy, a teenager, said.

Malachi Thompson, a student at West Charlotte High, said many kids are scared to walk to Bojangles or Burger King.

“We can’t eat the table because we feel like we are going to get shot down walking out to our vehicles,” Thompson said.

Thompson also pushed for officials and law enforcement to step up.

“You need to make decisions like your child is behind that gun,” Thompson said.

Other students encouraged their peers to reclaim the streets from the grip of violence.

“Pick up boxing gloves, a book, or a chrome book or something to take your frustration out in a positive manner,” Chase Howard, another student, said.

As teens continued to voice their concerns and push for solutions, they finished the discussion with one question: “Will you listen?”

Mayor Lyles also expressed concerns about youth violence releasing a letter saying the city is losing too many young people to gun violence and is calling for more investments in education, mental health resources, and economic mobility.

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