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Speaking out against violence

Community leaders in Cedar Rapids are working to promote non-violence.

City leaders, law enforcement, and community members impacted by violence spoke to students at Metro High School Wednesday morning.

NAACP Youth Chair, Danielle Brazant calls the event “Not this summer; not in the Corridor.”

"Last summer there was an uptick in violence as we got into summer we're trying to be ahead of the game and prevent violence instead of reacting to it after it happens," says Metro High School Principal, Brian Galusha.

Debra Hughes lost her brother not as a victim but as a perpetrator, his decision to use violence lead to a life sentence in prison.

"I felt like my brother just died it was like a death in our family," says Hughes.

She says the impact on the entire family has been devastating; she has not seen her brother for 21 years.

"We all pay for those mistakes every one of us," she adds.

Now she shares her story to prevent others from making the same mistakes.

"They tend to be followers rather than leaders, they don't think you know? It's easy to do something on a whim but it's work to stop and think," says Hughes.

Metro Junior, Dalayla Jackson believes the message is important but its up to teens to drive it home.

"Students would rather hear from people their own age then from adults," says Jackson. "If they listen to adults they feel like they're telling them what to do, but if they hear it from someone our age it might impact them more, so like from us hearing this we can spread it around to our friends and go from there," she adds.

Her cousin Senquez Jackson was killed last year in an accidental shooting; proof that an atmosphere of violence creates unintended targets.

"They don't have a clue, they play with it like it's a toy and then when somebody's dead then it's a whole new ball game, then it's I'm sorry, I'm sorry does not bring them back," says Hughes.

Organizers hope to make this a yearly effort to remind teens

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