Topeka Youth Commission holds virtual town hall meeting on lowering Topeka's rate of gun violence

Published: Jun. 23, 2020 at 8:28 PM CDT
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A virtual town hall session offered some ideas on how to lower Topeka's rate of gun violence.

In 2017, nearly forty thousands deaths occurred due to gun violence..

The Topeka Youth Commission says the recent loss of Joheem Meredith's life sparked the idea to have a conversation on preventing gun violence in the community.

"The night that it happened, I remember everyone was freaking out," Lorraine De La Isla with Topeka Youth Commission said.

On May 12, Joheem Meredith's life was cut short when he was shot and killed in the White Lakes Plaza Apartments parking lot, just eighteen years old.

The Topeka Youth Commission says especially since that night , the problem of gun violence had taken on.

"It really affected Topeka, especially Topeka's youth as a whole," De La Isla explained. "Everyone was like yes we need to do it, it needs to be a thing, so it was really Joheem's situation that kind of sparked the whole gun violence conversation against youth."

The Topeka Youth Commission worked with NAACP Youth Council, Topeka's Youth Project, and Washburn University's Mass Media Department to hold a virtual town hall meeting on Facebook.

"It's actually really important for us to speak on it, because the youth is our future," De La Isla said. "We're going to start voting soon, we're going to start being in office soon, so it's important for us to get a good idea of what's going on, help educate adults if they don't know, help educate other youth."

Lorraine De La Isla moderated the discussion and one of the questions she asked was "how has gun violence affected our youth?"

"It makes the entire place a really sad area to be in, its not what it should be," T'Salla James said.

"No teen should have to go through that, no teen should have to lose somebody to gun violence at such a young age," Jaqui Ortega added.

Some members of the Topeka Youth Commission say adults can help make a change too.

"As parents I think you can just sit your kids down and really talk to them about like what can happen with a gun," De La Isla said.

"We need to have adults in the community that are able to talk people out of using, resorting to gun violence as a way to solve the problem," James agreed.

The Top City Youth Council met with Mayor Michelle De La Isla and Topeka Police Chief Bill Cochran on recent issues, like protesting and COVID-19.

To listen to the Topeka Youth Commission's discussion on gun violence and the council meeting,