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'Put down the guns and be a better person' | Teenagers react to DC violence and city's response

Deputy Mayor of Public Safety and Justice is hosting pop-up resource fairs for youth

WASHINGTON — After six teenagers were shot leaving one dead in less than 48 hours in D.C., the city is offering support to its young residents.

The young man who lost his life was 16-year-old Traev'on Green of Southeast D.C. 

Police said he and his friend were riding on a moped in the 2200 block of Alabama Avenue, Southeast on Tuesday around 9 p.m. when a car driving by stopped. According to DC Police Chief Robert J. Contee III, the suspects got out and shot them both in what the chief called a targeted attack. 

Now the city is responding with support and resources for young people, but is it enough?

“I will never say as long as our young people are being shot and killed that it’s never enough,” said Deputy Mayor of Public Safety and Justice Lindsay Appiah. 

The deputy mayor hosted a pop-up resource fair at Anacostia High School Thursday. It was a chance for young people and their parents to get connected with resources in the community.

"I'll admit that coordination can be challenging; we all have our different programs, but what we're doing in the deputy mayor's office is serving as the hub of the wheel to helping bring everybody together," said Appiah.

There were dozens of city services and agencies set up with tables and passed out information to the nearly 50 young people who attended. And even in the middle of that crowded field with music and games, the mere mention of Shaun Gladden’s friend’s name makes him pause.

“Day Day,” he said staring and shaking his head.

The pain of losing a friend or loved one is far too real for many of these teenagers. Shaun's football buddy, 11-year-old Davon McNeal – police said he was killed by Daryle Bond on the 4th of July 2020. Bond was convicted and sentenced to eight years.

"Some of these kids have a bright future and can't get there,” said Shaun, “I didn't know how to act I was so angry."

Ritiya Hudson is noticing city agencies are stepping up to bring more activities and resources teens so desperately need. She wants to be a veterinarian and is trying to stay positive and focused on her education. But when the violence around her breaks her spirit, she tried to speak positivity.

“You just try to give your advice and once you give it, they make a choice what they do or not going to do,” she said.

According to DC Police, 19 juveniles have been shot so far this year compared to 12 this time last year. We have lost three young people to street violence this year.

“My city I hope we get better but it's going to take time and practice and everybody giving more good advice that bad,” said Hudson.

“Put the guns away and be a better person,” said Gladden.

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