NEW HAVEN– Two teens are dead in new haven in just two weeks and now city leaders have called an emergency meeting to address gun violence, but this wasn’t just another conversation —it was a plan of action.
Hundreds gathered Wednesday for “My Brother’s Keeper: Community Canvass for Disengaged Youth.” The community split into teams to canvass city neighborhoods—reaching out to troubled youth and their families.
Four-person teams of educators, public safety officers and citizens knocked on doors of “at-risk “youths.
“We want to stop the senseless violent crimes that have been stealing our children from New Haven families, stealing life itself from young people in our city, and stealing all the potential contributions of those young people from our city forevermore,” said Mayor Toni Harp.
Mayor Harp was joined by New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman, Fire Chief Allyn Wright and the city’s Youth Director Jason Bartlett to talk about ways the community can work together to reduce gun violence and keep young people safe.
The meeting was prompted by two recent teenage shooting deaths.
Torrence Gamble, 16, was shot in the head on Daggett Street on April 2 and a week earlier on March 24, Taijhon Washington, 17, was shot and later died after police found his body in front of Lincoln Basset Elementary School.
Close to 100 volunteers participated in the community canvass which took them to various neighborhoods throughout the city. The purpose of the canvass is to reach kids all across before the summer to make them aware of the programs and opportunities available.
The teams handed out a list of resources for the students and families, and a card for parents to fill out if they would like their child to be mentored.
“I want to make sure I`m taking the youth by the hand and making sure I’m pulling them up so he doesn’t go to jail or he doesn’t lose a life,” said Quavon Newton, a youth minister with Varick Memorial AME Zion Church.
Mary Williams, a Dixwell Avenue resident lives with her 17 year old grandson and says she was thrilled when volunteers came to her door.
“We need it for this young people. There really isn’t enough going on in the city for them,” Williams said.
Leaders say another community canvass night could happen in the future, but no decision has been made.