Town Hall for Justice addresses gun violence and its impact on youth in Harrisburg


Harrisburg activist Kevin Maxson addresses the panel at Wednesday’s City Hall for Justice.

On a Wednesday evening, community members and local officials gathered to discuss the issue of gun violence in Harrisburg.

Held at Harrisburg High School-John Harris Campus, the “Town Hall for Justice” aptly focused on helping the city’s youth, many of whom are impacted by violence.

“We have to stop looking at the other person to find the solution,” said Harrisburg School District Superintendent Eric Turman, a panelist at the event. “Take action to fix the problem, that’s where it gets different.”

This was the third town hall in a series of meetings hosted by Harrisburg resident Lavet Henderson.

Panelists included Turman, Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo, Magistrate District Judge Sonya McKnight, Heeding God’s Call Pastor Eric Jackson and community advocate Patricia Reitzi. Each spoke about issues related to their field and work, primarily around the issues facing Harrisburg youth and possible solutions.

Turman explained some of the initiatives the school district is working on, including returning college sports, increasing after-school programs and installing security cameras in schools.

“I hope that as we approach the next school year, you will have solutions for our students,” Henderson said.

Chardo addressed the problem local police face when people with information about shootings refuse to come forward. He pointed out that the Dauphin County Crime Stoppers system allows people to submit information anonymously.

A number of residents also spoke about their experiences with gun violence, asked questions and made comments.

Resident Tone Cook suggested more community policing efforts.

“In order to build relationships with the police in the community, they [police] need to not only come forward when there is a problem, but to interact with our young people in a positive way.

Other residents urged parents to be more proactive in checking in with their children and to seek resources and help from local groups. Several community organizations were represented at the event to offer their help, such as Breaking the Chainz, Power to the Hill and Moms Demand Action

Ultimately, participants agreed that more needs to be done to help Harrisburg’s youth, as well as the importance of community engagement.

“It takes all of us to do this,” McKnight said. “Until we face something, we can never defeat it. So tonight, that’s why we came here. We have one common goal: our community.

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