“Today is not a day of just talking,” said Donovan Richards (right), Sanders’ acting chief of staff, as he engaged the young people as the conference began. “We want to come up with solutions. We want the youth to come up with a plan.” Also pictured is Juan Ramos from El Puente.
“In days gone by [at other conferences] we talked about leadership in general, but here we are talking about why people join gangs and what we can do about it,” said Sanders. “Today, too many of our youth are lured into the life that is so hard to get out of; the life that will lead you to a downward cycle that just leads to more pain, not simply to you and your family but to the community around you. If the 80 or so youth here, if we saved half of them from that, that would be a great movement forward. We will also do some training of the adults later on where we break into some sessions where we train them on how they can institutionalize, how they can get grants and build and keep programs going.”
In one exercise, attendees wrote down their reactions to pictures of gang members from different periods in history.
Rasuli Lewis, right, the program director at Practitioners Institute at the Harlem Children’s Zone answers questions about his agency. Also pictured is Sanders’ district manager Blake Hyatt.
One teen said that with all the violence she’s “afraid to go to the park.”
In an effort to unite the community against the violence that is seen throughout his council district, Councilman James Sanders Jr. hosted an anti-violence conference this past Monday. The conference, which took place at the Goldie Maple Academy in Arverne, centered on combating gang activity, while at the same time talking about the various resources available to stem the growing tide of gang violence.