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Lexington leaders host forum to address gun violence in the community

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 9:31 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Emotions ran high Wednesday evening as community members begged city leaders to find ways to stop the gun violence in Lexington.

Police Chief Lawrence Weathers disclosed there are 65 vacancies on the police force currently. Mayor Linda Gorton says they’ve allocated funding to hold two new recruiting classes.

In the meantime, dozens filled an auditorium downtown to address Mayor Gorton, Chief Weathers, and One Lexington Director Devine Carama.

“I don’t want to go and see them in a casket at a church, or on a slab at a funeral home. I’m tired of that,” said Andre Maxberry.

Known as “Nana” to dozens of kids, Maxberry lost her own grandson, Mykel Waide, to gun violence in August of 2020. Now she pleads with city leaders to get to the root of the problem, as the death toll from gun violence continues to rise.

“If we can get a program started where we can educate our kids, show them there are people they can go to, talk to and trust,” Maxberry said. “That will stop a whole lot because it will give them some time to work.”

Along with Maxberry, youth advocate Stephen Overstreet agrees the problem stems from systemic poverty.

“They out here killing each other over dollars,” Overstreet said. “It’s not about ‘do I have something to do on a Friday night.’ It’s not ‘am I downtown having fun?’ No, it’s ‘I’m downtown seeing people make money and I haven’t ate all day.’”

Both are asking for money to be allocated to create a program that teaches young people the basics of applying for jobs and making money.

“Some of them are dealing with the pressures of having to help provide,” Carama said. “One thing the mayor’s office has done at Charles Young is started the Work Lex program, the one-stop -shop for adults to come.”

Carama suggested something similar for youth. He also asked adults and business owners to help in the youth and education-based programs he’s already created.

“From the social unrest to the pandemic. Some of them are dealing with generational poverty. Some of them have mental health issues. These are people,” Carama said.

This is the first in a series of public forums to discuss the rising issue of gun violence in the city.

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