In the Martin Luther King Center of Rock Island eleven students show up to speak out about gang violence, drug abuse to the community. Two females and nine males from different cities, schools and background all had much to say to the attendees about these topics. The small crowd listened to the students’ concerns and problems that plague them on the streets.

The event was organized by Carlos Jimenez and others from the Martin Luther King Center. 

Some people have family or friends in gangs and are often mistaken for gang members. Others will defend the gang member and get involved in gangs because they may feel the pressure to do so. A freshman female Rock Island High School student says she isn’t a gang member but has friends who are. She talks about karma and tells others to think twice before acting on peer pressure. “Don’t be stupid, what you do, know you’re going to regret later”. 

With images of violence on television and in their neighborhoods, this may have influence on the way they behave.

According to some of the members of the panel the more money someone may seem to have, the more power and respect they get. This gang member can sometimes be a role model to younger kids. The neighborhoods that younger kids live in are environments filled with crimes.  A Thurgood Marshall High School graduate said how he never did any drugs but did have involvement in gang activities.  Some of his family members live in areas surrounded by crime.  Growing up in these types of homes, gang life may be all these teenagers know.  

The eleven students that showed up to meeting also said that there are programs that helped, like the Boys and Girls Club, summer programs, or even church programs. Some of the panelists agree that more the student is involved with the program the less the student will be out on the streets. But as a student mentioned not all programs last long. Some programs don’t make it long enough because of the lack of funding.  

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Even though some of the students at the meeting have been through some tough battles, it does not stop them from having goals. Many want to go to college, others just want to take things slow and see what life brings them.

After the students were done talking the meeting ended with eating cookies, drinking juice and having much more knowledge of one another.

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