Douglasville Police host ‘Youth Peace Summit’ in effort to stop violence

Douglasville Police Department held 'Youth Peace Summit' in an effort to stop violence
Published: Mar. 18, 2023 at 11:43 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The Douglasville Police Department held its first ‘Youth Peace Summit’ on Saturday. This comes after two teens died and multiple people were injured at a shooting outside a sweet 16 birthday party earlier this month.

“I have friends that went to that party and people that I knew and like their okay but just thinking about them that ended up dead,” said Ben Garrison. “Just thinking about if it were me or any of my friends is a lot,” he said.

Police Chief Gary Sparks said they hope the summit will stop the violence impacting young people.

“We decided a month ago, to have a youth peace rally because we have seen throughout the state and the nation where our youth has been involved in negative situations where our youth are losing their lives,” Chief Sparks said. “Being involved in gangs. Being involved with different types of social media, so we just wanted to come together today to speak on some solutions to the issues that we see facing some of our youth together,” he said.

The group discussed gun violence and other issues. This was in conjunction with the department’s Youth Against Violence program.

“The Youth Against Violence program is a separate 8 to a 10-week program of classes that we have been doing for several years. Today kicked off the Spring 2023 8-week session where the Chief made them inclusive of each other,” an official with the Douglasville Police Department said.

“We’re looking for solutions-- there are solutions that our young men and young women understand that they are significant that they have a purpose. We’re looking for solutions that they can find through the education process of being involved in extra curriculum activity at their schools, at their church,” Chief Sparks said. “We’re looking for solutions that the communities, the parks, the recreation departments can have different types of programs that can help get young men and young women on the right road towards their greatness,” he said.

“I decided to come here just to support fighting against violence in my county that I live in, because especially after the shooting that happened like last week. I just wanted to show that I care about these things,” Garrison said.

LA Pink, a community advocate was also a part of the conversation.

“I’m here today because this is time for a change for our youth. A lot of things are going on inside of the community from Atlanta to Douglasville to Clayton County...all of the counties are dealing with our youth,” LA Pink said. “So, this is an impact-to-change event and that’s what we’re about right today...changing the mindset of our youth,” she said.

“Us as leaders in the community, we have to stay in these schools. We have to now go after these schools and start being at the schools every single day and being that impact to change direction in the school. Don’t wait until they come out then school doors go to the schools,” LA Pink said.

That’s what Chief Sparks said it’s going to take.

“Stay away from the gun violence. Stay away from criminal addictive thinking. The mindset is what we’re trying to attack today, is the criminal thinking mindset of being involved,” Chief Sparks said. So, this is what we’re trying to do to speak on things that would help them stay away from those things that are taking them away from their greatness,” he said.

Chief Sparks also said they want all youth to know people are there.

“I think that once the young men and young women see the things that we’re doing in the community to embolden them to their greatness, they will see our true love for them,” Chief Sparks said.