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'You didn't shoot people because you got mad' | Neighbors, community advocates calling for an end to youth violence in Charlotte

After a deadly weekend in the Charlotte area and across the country, anti-violence leaders want to see change from the community.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Gun violence is shattering families and communities across Charlotte, and community members are looking for ways to reduce the crimes in the area.

"When I was growing up you didn’t shoot people because you got mad. You just didn’t," said Brianna Martin, an east Charlotte resident. 

She said it starts with correcting bad behavior when kids are young.

"I teach my children better ways to resolve conflict," said Martin. "I have an 8-year-old son and sometimes he hits his 12-year-old-brother when he gets mad. I tell him right away that is not the way we deal with conflict. That is not the way you deal with resolution."

Community advocate Brandon Brown is taken aback by the rise in violence.

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"I’ve been in Charlotte since 1982, and I’ve never seen the violence occur like it’s occurring now," he said. I just left a vigil last night, and parents are hurt, the mother couldn’t even stay for the whole vigil because she couldn’t deal with the fact that she lost her son to nonsense."

The vigil was in memory of 21-year-old Donald Taylor. He was shot and killed on the night of Memorial Day in east Charlotte.

As of May 31, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department reports there have been 37 homicides so far this year. It's a number that will continue to climb.

Two more people were gunned down on Saturday in different shootings in the region. A 20-year-old died at the hospital after he was shot in northwest Charlotte. Over in west charlotte, gunfire erupted near Leake Street and West Boulevard around noon, killing one person.

Brown is urging people to find other ways to solve their problems, adding that time behind bars and a loss of life is not worth the bullets.

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You have to deal with consequences," he said. "You have to deal with a lot of stuff and the fact that you took someone’s life over nonsense, something that could have been settled tomorrow."

Brown is taking his efforts to the streets spreading awareness through marches and speaking to people directly impacted by the violence. He said it takes bringing the entire community coming together to make a difference.

"We go to these convenience stores and they are hanging out, and we go to these hoods and they are hanging out," he said. "Go out and socialize and let them know that we care. In other words, we have to go to them."

Martin wants to see more programs and resources for the youth.

"There should be opportunities to have community centers in every neighborhood," she said. "There should be summer programs that don't cost $500 a week for four hours a day, because parents can't afford that."

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She is calling on city leaders to step in, especially in high-risk neighborhoods.

“That is literally what we voted and elected politicians to do," Martin said, "to go into their communities that they are supposed to be serving and say 'how can we better serve the people that have elected us.'”

Meanwhile, nonprofit Heal Charlotte is partnering with CMPD, Moms Demand Action, and other community leaders to host an anti-violence day summit on June 25. The event will have panel discussions to speak about the issues plaguing communities and provide solutions for change. It will also have activities for families, entertainment, music, and food.

Contact Jesse Pierre at jpierrepet@wcnc.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

WCNC Charlotte is committed to reporting on the issues facing the communities we serve. We tell the stories of people working to solve persistent social problems. We examine how problems can be solved or addressed to improve the quality of life and make a positive difference. WCNC Charlotte is seeking solutions for you. Send your tips or questions to newstips@wcnc.com.

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