ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A line of determined teens standing behind a pure white casket — reminding passers by what happens too often to kids like them.
“It’s a symbolism of what happens when we take lives from one another,” explains David Gordon, the Boys and Girls Club of the Capital Area Program Director.
The second annual Stop the Violence rally taking place Friday in Albany, organized by the Boys and Girls Club of the Capital Area, and with yet another deadly shooting just hours before the demonstration, attendees say that their message of conflict resolution and peace is important now more than ever. As NEWS10 has reported, the shooting Thursday evening on Second Street killed a 26-year-old man and injured a 21-year-old man.
“A couple of young men were targeted, and we see this on a consistent basis when we have this sort of violence is that young men are targeting other young men,” says Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins.
“There’s a saying that says ‘the people perish for lack of knowledge’, and so when you don’t know better, you don’t do better,” says Gordon.
Speakers preaching alternatives and investing in youth early to keep them from turning to or becoming victims of gun violence. These teens say it is unsettling to see their peers suffer.
“It makes me scared that I could just be like walking in a neighborhood one day, and I might just be thought of as a guy that probably bothered another man and I might be on someone’s list,” says one teen Oluwasegun Tijani.
“It’s traumatizing and it’s really scary out in the streets and I feel like it needs to be better,” adds another teen Osbert Boakye.
That’s why community leaders want the youth of this city to know: we hear you and we’re here for you.
“We’re here to let these young people know they have our support,” says Hawkins. “We hear them, we want to be a part of the solution with them. They need to be included. So many times when we go through stuff like this, the adults in the room want to be the ones to make the major decisions, but we understand now that we need these young people.”
“Boys and Girls of the Capital Area, we have programs for you to come to, after school, on the weekends, things that you can do and programs that we have that will help resolve conflicts,” says Gordon.