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Local organization hosts community to find ways to discourage youth from violence

"It's about saving our kids in the community."
Posted at 6:22 PM, Jul 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-16 19:22:50-04

MILWAUKEE — In one of the toughest communities to grow up in Milwaukee, people are looking for solutions and ways to save lives.

As the city of Milwaukee continues to deal with rise in violence, from reckless driving to homicides.

Police data shows that since 2020, nonfatal shootings are up 96% and homicides with guns are up 125% from 2019 to 2021.

Community members like Pastor Virgina Pratt are stepping up to steer local youth on a different path.

Pratt is a former probation officer and said she founded 'We The People', an organization focused on empowering Milwaukee's youth and discussing ways to address reckless driving.

"It's about saving our kids in the community," Pratt stated.

So, she put together a community event that showcased testimonials by men and women who were caught up in the wrong crowd and ended up in criminal system as young people.

Pratt believes these testimonials will show young people that actions have consequences and to ensure the message came across, a prison cell on wheels was on stage.

"The kids see what happens to you when you do wrong," Pratt said. "This cell will show them where you go."

Shawana Hughes Houston is a mother who took the stage to remind other parents the tremendous role they play in saving young lives.

"I guarantee you if they (parents) start talking to these kids and finding out what they to these children need and find out what they want from adults and grownups, things can change," Houston stated.

Houston who was in the criminal justice system growing up said it breaks her to see the violence in Milwaukee impacting her children immensely.

"They had so many friends that passed away they like, 'mom we are tired'," Pratt said. "We gotta do better and we can."

Both Houston and Pratt envision better days for Milwaukee youth and they hope the community steps up.

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