An effort to end gun violence was the topic of a town hall meeting on the North Shore.
WGNO News Reporter Darian Trotter attended the meeting that was organized by a group of young people who sent a powerful message to their peers.
It was a grassroots effort led by young people dedicated to making a difference.
It was a meeting with a purpose that drew a small yet enthusiastic crowd.
“We just felt like we needed to take a stand as young community and say we’re not even going to tolerate this,” organizer Denzel Poulson said.
These three men have been touched by gun violence; and each has accepted responsibility for their role.
Since then, they’ve found wisdom in their faith and have turned their lives around.
Damion Lewis survived a gunshot wound to the head.
“I try to tell my story to other people so they can know what I been through and hopefully they can change their life,” Lewis explained.
“We don’t want it to seem cool. The aftermath. My man has a hole in his head, it aint cool you know,” organizer Chris Dennis added.
The town hall-style meeting was held a Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church in Pearl River — on the heels of a highly publicized shooting in neighboring Slidell.
The trouble began at Shooters Bar in Old Town with an argument and subsequent fight outside the bar.
It ended with a multiple shooting in which 8-people were injured Christmas night. Two of them died.
Several speakers at Thursday night’s discussion were there; including at least one victim.
“The message is clear it’s all love no hate,” Dennis said. “We’re not going to stand for it as a community. The older generation, the younger generation. We’re not going to stand for it.”
It was through vivid and emotional testimonies that they made their plea for risk youth to end the violence and choose a different path like they did.
“You can still be who you are in a positive way,” Lewis said. “You don’t have to go the wrong route.”
The organizers of the meeting are calling on community and city leaders to help organize a larger peace rally in the near future.