Community meeting held to discuss gun violence

Community meeting held to discuss gun violence
Published: Aug. 11, 2015 at 2:19 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2015 at 2:54 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - After six shootings in Savannah over the weekend, a group of concerned citizens met to talk with a panel of experts about the issue of gun violence.

The questions ranged from asking about the psychological effects for victims of gun violence, to what people can do individually to help.

A group of about 50 or so came out Monday night to the Sentient Bean, to talk with a panel of four people, all bringing their own unique perspective to the discussion. Mentoring the youth was one topic brought up.

"You have to ask yourself, what are we doing to fix it? How many people here are mentoring kids right now that are in the neighborhoods that are looking for things to do? Not all kids are going to the community centers," Ruel Joyner, Downtown Business Association, said.

Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Lt. David Gay talked about his experiences with people caught up in crime involving guns.

"They are hopeless. They feel that society doesn't care about them and they will tell you that they think they are basically going to end up in one of two ways: they'll either end up dead or they're going to end up in prison. And they don't see any light at the end of the tunnel," said Lt. Gay.

Panelists also addressed the dangers of apathy towards the issue.

"There are innocent bystanders, we saw that recently in Ellis Square. The bullets go anywhere. So it's not always about who got shot, what they're doing, what their lifestyle was, it's the fact that it occurred," said Ylana Abbot, Solidarity in Savannah.

"Some people are saying, I'm only going to be worried or concerned about it if it affects me. If it's not on my door, if it's not in my house, I don't really care what happens as long as it's not with me," Beverly Trotter, Savannah Youth City.

Questions for the panel eventually led to some comments and strong feelings from the audience members.

"There are some things that we ask the police to do that are beyond their paygrade. Violence in our community is a public health issue and it's reached an epidemic level," said one concerned audience member.

Monday night's community meeting helped residents get a better understanding of what services already exist in Savannah that help victims of gun violence, and programs coming in, like Operation Ceasefire.

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