JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Ward 3 City Councilman Kenneth Stokes hosted a town hall on Wednesday, May 11, to discuss gang activity and possible solutions to keep Jackson’s youth on the right path.

Since the beginning of 2021, Jackson police said 43 teens ages 13 to 17 have been arrested for violent crimes like murder and armed carjacking.

“We’ve got to reach these children now,” said Councilman Stokes.

Councilman Stokes says there is a house on Woody Drive where teens that are a part of local gangs often stay. One Jackson man says his grandson was in the house last month when a 15-year-old shot and killed another 15-year-old. He says his grandson has been to the house numerous times, even though the family moved to a safer neighborhood in north Jackson.

“It would just be a bunch of guys in the house just all lying around,” said a Jackson grandfather. “Whoever actually owns the house, they just kind of let them do what they want. I’m trying to save my grandson’s life, he’s 15 years old,” he continued.

A Jackson mother lost three teenage boys to gun violence, and is warning other parents to pay attention to the signs before it’s too late.

“In 2016 I had a set of twin boys. I lost one at the age of 15. In 2018 I lost one at the age of 18. This Friday I lost my 15-year-old. That was my baby. y’all listen to what they’re saying and save y’all’s children,” said a Jackson mother.

Hinds County Sheriff Tyree Jones agrees that parents need to watch for signs, because he says it starts at home. Sheriff Jones says teens usually commit small crimes first before committing violent ones.

“When you see some of these things and don’t hold them accountable, this gives them a comfort level that they can commit violent crimes and they can get away with some of these violent crimes,” said Sheriff Jones. “We have to hold these kids accountable rather it’s through the criminal justice system or at home,” Sheriff Jones continued.

Councilman Stokes said many people do not have the courage to speak out, due to fear of retaliation.

“Older people call me all the time scared and say, ‘They’re going to burn my house down,’” said Councilman Stokes.

Jackson police said they have taken guns off the streets, but somehow teens keep getting access to them.

“What are we going to do about these youth with these guns? Police officers, we ask that question every day,” said Jackson Police Chief James Davis.

“We have taken multiple assault rifles off the streets. It seems as though, the more they take off, the more they come back,” said a Jackson police sergeant.

Councilman Stokes is also calling for local and state law enforcement agencies to come together to create a task force to investigate gang activity in Jackson.

Another major topic was the possibility of holding parents accountable as well when juveniles commit violent crimes.

Chief Davis also said city leaders should invest more into community groups that help mentor children.