Saint Louis Story Stitchers youth hosted a second video-taped discussion on November 10th at Kranzberg Arts Center’s Black Box Theater to reopen topics explored in last year’s discussion.
Stitchers Teen Council Co-Chairs Aniya and Toryon, both seniors in high school, led guest high school youth from University City High School, McCluer High School, Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, and Cleveland NJROTC Academy in a closed-set, video-taped discussion on gun violence prevention and police/teen relations.
Teenagers, police and leaders including Rachel Smith, Chief Prosecutor in the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office, Lieutenant Colonel Ronnie L. Robinson, Deputy Chief of Police of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and Commander at the Bureau of Community Affairs, Lieutenant Perri Johnson, Commander Juvenile Division of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, Kristen Mueller, MD, emergency medicine physician at the Washington University School of Medicine, and Mary M. McKay, PhD, Dean and Professor of the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis searched for solutions to relevant topics including ways to curb youth gun crime, best practices for police-minority youth interaction, and ending the no snitching phenomenon.
The following are some of the reasons youth gave for why they wanted to participate:
- I would like to participate in a discussion with teenagers and other leaders because I am very passionate about social justice. I have seen so many news stories about shootings and killings that are so unjust. I see Missouri’s new gun laws and I just know that now is the time for action.
Because gun violence can be very saddening. It puts a lot of stress on people.
- I would like to participate in a videotaped discussion between teenagers, police and civic leaders to find ways to work together to decrease gun violence because it’s a never ending problem and will escalate if we don’t do anything to stop it.
- This problem educating teenagers about gun violence is important because we have social media, music, parents and friends influencing young adults. Jamyla Bolden was shot and killed on August 18, 2015 at 9:30 in her mother’s bedroom laying down doing homework when suddenly a bullet went through a window and hit her. The person responsible is in jail now for taking a girl’s innocent life. The more we decrease violence the more people we save.
- I would like to explain why we have Amendment 2 and why there are people licensed with guns. However, I think the world should ban guns because they might not be used correctly (ie killing someone, being charged with possession of a firearm, suicide, etc.)
- I would love to do this because I want to let people know about what’s going on in this world about gun violence, killing etc. and I would be honored to let people hear my voice about it.
- I would like to participate in a videotaped discussion between teens, police, and civic leaders because I want to be able to get the opportunity to make a difference in our community.
I would like to be involved to learn and make a difference between the relationship of teens and police, and also get explanations on actions police take and why there is such racial discord.
Saint Louis Story Stitchers is an artists’ collective “dedicated to documenting Saint Louis, Missouri through art and word” sponsored in part by the Regional Arts Commission. It is sponsored in part by the Institute’s Gun Violence Initiative, the Regional Arts Commission, Kranzberg Arts Foundation, Kranzberg Arts Center, the Steward Family Foundation, the Yvette and John Dubinsky Family Foundation, and Risa Zwerling and Mark S. Wrighton.