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Youth forum focuses on campus violence in Charlotte-Mecklenburg
Students lead March 24 town hall meeting
Published Wednesday, March 20, 2019 11:54 am
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

A student-led town hall meeting will focus on violence on Charlotte-Mecklenburg campuses. The forum will take place March 24 at 5 p.m. at Delta House, 5408 Beatties Ford Road.

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Students are weighing in on violence in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Project B.O.L.T. (Building Outstanding Lives Together, a youth intervention foundation) organized a Youth Town Hall for March 24 from 5-8 p.m. at the Delta House on 5408 Beatties Ford Road. Therapist Justin Perry will serve as the moderator. Panelists include five CMS students, a sophomore and four seniors respectively: Mallard Creek High’s Nia Funderburg, Maurice Cowley and Britney Dockery of Harding, Berry Academy’s Righteous Keitt and Rocky River’s Amya Burse.

“It is time for the adults to sit back and hear from our youth, and put them on a platform where they can be the leaders in addressing problems in the school system, because we don’t live in their world,” Project B.O.L.T founder Gemini Boyd said. “We need to be invited into their world, and this town hall is our invitation.”

The forum will examine two questions: why do students bring guns to school, and how safe do you feel on campus?

Boyd created the forum to provide a place for students to discuss the impact of last October’s fatal shooting at Butler High. He can speak firsthand to the impact of gun violence on campus when, as a 16-year-old, he wounded a student at Myers Park High in 1990. Boyd spent three years behind bars for assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. He was later convicted as an adult on drug and firearm conspiracy charges, for which he was sentenced to 30 and 20 years, respectively. Boyd spent 20 years in prison, and was released nearly four years ago.

“I was involved in a shooting on school grounds at Myers Park,” Boyd said. “When the young man was killed at Butler, I felt that something had to be done. We formulated a rally, and we marched, and from that, this evolved because the people wanted to know what was next. We need to hear from the youth.”

Said Keitt: “After the shooting at Butler, it really had an effect on a lot of students in our school, because even though they realized that it wasn’t a mass shooting, students can be killed very easily if you bring a gun to campus. We took that moment and we tried to enlighten our school board and our local government that this is an actual issue, and if we just watch and continue to let things happen, we won’t achieve anything, nor will we save any students from the potential dangers that come with having guns on campus.”

For students like Keitt, being a member of the Charlotte Youth Council and co-president of Generation Nation has allowed him to gain hands-on experience in shaping change.

“I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot more about the processes that go with our local government,” he said. “Just learning how we can actually make a change, if we talk about the issues that are affecting us.”


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