Meridian Youth Gather to "Stop the Violence"

Meridian, Miss. "Stop the Violence" rallies are becoming increasingly common in Meridian. With a large number of violent crimes perpetrated by youth, that younger generation is now taking a stand with its own rally.

"We are the voice of the youth," Kavin Gibbs says. "We are the majority in Meridian, and people don't really see us as effective. I feel like since most of the crime is being done by the youth, it's a time for the youth to take change and stop the crime."

This group gathered today to talk about the issues that kids are facing. They say the pressure they receive to get involved with gang or criminal activity starts very early.

"Sixth grade, I was asked to be in a gang. I actually thought about doing it, just to fit in," Joshua Lyons says. "But my parents raised me better, and I knew it wasn't for me."

The group says youth are often surrounded by violence; their first instinct is to handle a situation physically rather than verbally.

"They don't really know how to speak to each other," Artis Ricks says. "This generation of people is just physical. People don't really think about their actions before they do it, and they just do it because somebody else thinks it's cool for them to do it."

Last weekend's shooting is a prime example. The murder of Kelvin Harris was part of the inspiration for this gathering. The group says the message they want to get out to their peers is that talking to police should not be something to be looked down upon.

"A lot of people saw what happened," Simone Amos says. "And they're just either afraid or maybe saying that they're loyal to not speak up about what is happening, and that's really going to affect, I know, his family."

"If you see somebody with a gun, and somebody killed somebody that you loved, you would want the person to say something to the police if it was your family member. So I feel like people need to speak up more," Gibbs says. "Believe me, you will make a change if you speak more. So speak up."