JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A local organization is calling on the youth to speak out on the gun violence plaguing the City of Jackson, creating a safe space to come together to develop the ideas they want to present to city officials.

The Jackson People’s Assembly hosted the Youth Assembly at Smith Park in an effort to create a long-term platform for the youth to share their concerns and voice their strategies for solutions to stop gun violence in the city.

“Really want to figure out what are the root causes of that violence, because it’s not like children just want to pick up and be violent. They really have been left out, resources have been neglected and they haven’t had the opportunity to be a part of more positive and inclusive spaces. PIA really thinks about creating enough environment and opportunities so they don’t feel like they have to do things and secure resources on their own. Normally, that’s what violence is. It’s like an insecurity. We’re trying to limit that insecurity by providing leadership opportunities for young folks,” said event coordinator, Gus Washington.

Jackson youth make up a large part of those who are perpetrators and victims of gun violence in the city. As someone who has paid their debt to society for armed robbery, one community advocate said he hopes his experiences can serve as a change agent for the youth.

“That role led me to see a lot of other things that I unfortunately had to see. It’s like when you fast forward in my life ten, fifteen years later and you seen the same things going on, you got to use your experience to try and help deter some of the things you see. That’s one of the biggest reasons I’m here today,” said Jarvis Jones, community advocate and provisional licensed professional counselor.

One teen said the youth don’t have a chance to talk to city officials, but hopes events like this will help spread their message.

“This is my people, our community. We’ve got to show up for every event. I’ve been going to these for a while because you got to know what’s happening to your community. You got to be invested in it because you want to see change. You just want to be able to walk out wherever you go and not have to worry about anybody shooting anything. Nobody robbing you anywhere. Just being chill,” said Jackson teen, Muarid Abdul-Cawwab.

Coordinator for PAI, Brooke Floyd, said the youth in Jackson are an endless resource for ideas and creativity, so it’s important to engage and utilize them, asking them how problems can be solved, especially since it’s affecting their demographic the most.

The organization said recommendations made during the assembly will be provided to the Office of the Mayor and City Council.