More than 100 people gathered at the Malcolm X Center Sunday afternoon to speak about the recent spike in violence in north Omaha.
Latron Louis was one of those who shared his story. A former gang member, Louis said he's tired of seeing innocent children die at the hands of a gun.
“I didn't understand what I was doing and they don't understand the damage that they're doing, but we need people to know that this is wrong."
The forum was organized in less than a week and spread through word of mouth. Moderator Leo Louis said the meeting helped spark a dialogue he hopes continues through additional community gatherings.
“This time it’s all about the community. The community is now going to stand up as a unified force and make sure we collectively come up with a solution to this.”
The meeting brought many personally touched by violence, including the family of 16-year-old Eriana Carr, who was shot outside her home last week. Sherry, who didn’t want her last name used, said Carr inspired everyone with her positive attitude.
“She put joy into my nieces and nephews hearts and that's what we're supposed to be doing, but that's not what we're doing. We need to change the way we think, guys.”
Many also shared practical ways to get involved, including spending time mentoring children at schools around Omaha and reiterating the importance of family structure. Several people also mentioned the need for people in the neighborhood to speak up about the crimes they witness or have information about.
No arrest has been made for Carr's murder. There was also a chance for people to buy jewelry and pink ribbons in memory of Carr. Profits will help pay for her funeral expenses.
Robert Wagner and Gabrial Olson helped set up Project KNOSE (Keeping North Omaha Safe For Everyone). To email them for more details, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.