Community organization I AM A GENTLEMAN hosts youth panel on violence in Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A community group led a powerful conversation about battling violence on the streets of Chicago with some of those impacted by it the most.

Male mentorship and leadership development organization, I AM A GENTLEMAN, Inc., gave dozens of youth a platform to speak out on violence in their neighborhoods on Wednesday.

"I lost close friends," said Keandre Battle. "I lost people I went to school with. I lost family members."

"For once, it wasn't just the adults telling us everything they wanted us to hear,' said Jason Lopez.

The event, called "The Cry," featured a panel with law enforcement, activists and a parent of a child lost to gun violence.

"The young people have stepped up to the plate to say, we want our voice to be heard and we really believe that we have a part of the answer to the solution of the violence in Chicago," Jermaine Lawrence Anderson, the group's founder and executive director.

The solution wasn't a simple one.

"You have to get everybody on board, not just specific people," Lopez said.

"A lot of people are like, 'The teens are doing this, the kids are doing this, the kids are doing that,' and stuff, but it's more instead supposed to be like, 'What can I do to help them?'" said Saint Gates.

After Wednesday night, the young attendees say they're willing to work together.

"The word that was given today, it opens your eyes to see that there's much more to do and help within our life,"" said Jahkeyleon Baker.

"I actually feel like things are going to change, and I pray that things are going to change and hope for the better," said Nazaren Brown.

The event was held at Chicago Police Department headquarters in Bronzeville. It was also live-streamed on the organization's Facebook page.

"We hope that the young people walk away feeling empowered, feeling educated, feeling inspired, but most of all, feeling encouraged that they can make change in the city in which they live, week after week," Jermaine Lawrence Anderson said.

IAAG said it plans to continue these conversations.

For additional information about the groupt, visit their website at www.iamagentleman.org.
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