Meeting of the minds held to discuss violence prevention in Lexington

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - As the summer days slip by, the heat behind the 'Stop the Violence' movement only continues to rise.

On Saturday, a meeting of the minds was held at the Imani Baptist Church off Georgetown Street to discuss the ongoing effort to stop the violence in Lexington.

“The reason for the panel discussion for the ‘You Only Live Once, Stop the Violence’ experience was to have an open and honest conversation with different people from different walks of life,” said Phillip Garrard who helped organize the discussion.

Some folks who spoke at the gathering included ministers, a local business owner, Lexington Assistant Police Chief and ambassadors for the local youth group called ‘YOLO.’

Each speaker in attendance also helped offer a new perspective on the problem itself.

“I’ve worn the shoes of some guys out there doing the violence,” said Gerald Mack, owner of Art Bar in Lexington. “Sometimes when they hear advice from someone like me they respect it. When they need something, I’m the person they call. I take care of them.”

“Until we understand where each person comes from then we can never stop anything. This violence isn’t a monolithic problem; it’s a problem that varies. It is plural so you need everybody's opinion to get a real change done,” said Courtland Smith, organizer.

Saturday’s discussion was just one the 'You Only Live Once' events held in recent days on the north side of the city.

One of the speakers mentioned that he's a former convict and since his release from jail, he's turned his life around and is now working to help the youth in the community do the same.

"Sometimes when they hear it from someone like me, they respect it. When they need something, I'm the person they call, I take care of them," says Gerald Mack, owner of Art Bar in Lexington.

A unity block party was supposed to be held at Douglass Park on Saturday night but was cancelled due to weather. Organizers say they definitely plan to reschedule.

So whether it's block parties, peace walks or meetings, organizers plan to do whatever it takes to keep the ‘Stop the Violence’ movement in full motion.

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