Harrisburg students gather to stop violence

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Preventing, deescalating and avoiding youth violence were the topics taking center stage at the Harrisburg Improve Theater Friday morning.

Students casually discussed ways to prevent violence with local law enforcement agencies.

The youth build program is sponsored by the YWCA, Harrisburg police, the Neighborhood Dispute Settlement, and other local agencies.

“It’s for 18- to 24-year-olds that are lacking their GED and want to further their education,” YouthBuild operation coordinator Stewart Henretta said.

These students aren’t here just to get an academic education.

“We came here today to talk about how we can stop the violence and increase the peace in our city,” one student said.

The gathering was held after a videotaped brawl involving several students last month at 14th and Swatara streets. Brian Miller said he was asked to participate in that fight but said no because he’s seen first-hand the effects of violence.

“I lost my brother,” Miller said. “He got gunned down in the big ugly warehouse on 17th.”

Twenty-year-old Angelica Fernandez said she personally fell victim to violence.

“There was a fight and I was a bystander and got hit with a pole, a metal pole,” she said. “They hit me and I got the scar on my chest.”

As young adults step up, the hope is the community starts looking to them to be leaders.

The Neighborhood Dispute Settlement said their next step is to get involved with youth in schools.

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