BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Gun violence continues to be a concern for Birmingham city leaders heading into 2022. This past week, 16-year-old Yasmine Wright and 18-year-old De’Undray Nakil Haggard were both victims of gun violence.
On Friday, a seminar was held at Booker T. Washington School. City leaders say holding in-person events like these will help bring awareness to different ways they can prevent violence in the community.
“So basically, we talked about how to solve conflicts in a good way, so we learned that we should talk about our problems, and we shouldn’t fight,” said Janiya Anderson, a student that attended the seminar.
“If you see someone fighting, it’s not your problem, just walk away, but if something is happening and you can help, help, but if not just walk away,” said Angely Navarro, another student at the event.
The conflict resolution event was hosted by STRAP, an early intervention program focusing on helping the youth leave behind a life of crime for a brighter future.
“They pick up the tools that my team gives and provide and then take those tools and learn of better ways to deal with conflict without it resulting in violence, that’s our hope and that’s our goal,” said the founder of STRAP, Donald Shepherd.
The seminar is taking place at a crucial time for the City of Birmingham as multiple families are dealing with a loss due to gun violence.
“We have just seen it with Jasmine Wright coming home from work. She was innocent, there was a conflict that she had nothing to do with. Right there a life lost,” said Shepherd.
“My expectation is that people who know each other find a different way to solve their problem instead of pulling out a gun and actually shooting the other person or shooting at each other,” said Mayor Randall Woodfin of the City of Birmingham.
City leaders are striving to invest in youth programs to help kids stay out of crime and focus on reaching their fullest potential.
“Our children are looking at us to help them and encourage them. So, when I get time to give back or take time with young people, I’ll do it every time,” said Mayor Woodfin.
STRAP will continue sharing its message with students in Birmingham. On January 21, they will be at Smith Middle School with Commissioner Scales and Sheriff Pettway.