Youth stand up for Warren

WARREN – It may take a village to raise a child, but it certainly it takes a village to combat the face of violence.

That was one of the messages delivered Saturday during a presentation held by the Trumbull County Martin Luther King Jr. Dream Team at the Warren YWCA.

The presentation, held in collaboration with the Coalition for a Better Life, was held to give parents, youth and members of the community an outlet to share concerns and opinions about recent events in the city.

“We are putting together (this) event to show support for recent events of all of the shootings to come together as a community and find out how our youth are feeling, how we can provide support, encouragement, engagement,” said Toni Blake, co-chair of the TC MLK Dream Team.

One way to accomplish that was by hearing the experiences of Amir Khalid Samad, co-founder and CEO of the Coalition for a Better Life in Cleveland. Samad, who has witnessed the aftermath of much violence, including gang and drug activity, had participants form a “sharing circle” as he spoke to them about unity and acceptance.

Samad greeted participants warmly in expressions of peace and salutations in multiple languages.

“We’re all connected. We should all be affirmed by who we are. My way is not better than your way,” he said.

Samad said he often is called to identify victims of violence in Cleveland, who often are people he knows.

“There’s always some problems in the village. The circle is positive. It’s all unity; we’re all connected. The other thing that the circle represents is we all came over in different ships, but now we’re in the same boat. (We’re here) to promote unity, peace and understanding amongst ourselves,” he said.

A newly formed group comprised of concerned Warren youths called The Village also attended the event to show their support. Their mantra is ‘pushing forward.’

“It’s nice to see young adults actively participating and wanting to give back. They’re real good role models,” Blake said.

Six founding members are Monica Byrd, Allan Harris, Caleb Davis, Kiera Moore, Vincent Peterson II and Angel Pixley. Most are in their early to mid-20s and have begun successful careers and want to give back to their community.

Peterson, a parole officer for Trumbull County, said the recent spike in crime and drug abuse are some of the reasons they decided to get involved.

“We’ve seen friends, we’ve seen people we’ve graduated with, we’ve seen them on drugs, we’ve seen them go to prison and we’ve been to their funerals. It’s up to all of us in the city of Warren to make a difference,” he said.

bhazen@tribtoday.com