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Preventing gang violence at Teen Unity Forum in Utica

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - 17-year-old Delvin Moody is an 11th grader at Proctor High School in Utica and now has taken on the role of President of the Utica/Oneida County NAACP Youth Council.

Moody says he wants to help area youth be all that they can be, and not settle for less, like becoming gang members.

That is why Moody and the Chairman of the Cornhill Community For Change, Ed Jackson put together a Teen Unity Forum on Saturday at the DeSales Neighborhood Center.

Moody says the goal of the forum is simple. He said, "The forum is to be proactive and not reactive. I don't want to be having this conversation months from now and young people have committed murders or the gang violence has escalated to some horrible thing within Utica. I want to be today proactive, and say we're going to stop this now before this escalates."

Jackson says the gang problem in Utica is growing and needs to be curbed, somehow.

He says he held a youth meeting a couple of months ago, and the talk among the teens that showed up was very nonchalant about gangs.

He said, "They were like, oh yea, this person we're trying to recruit. And they were going, this person's in a gang, this person's in a gang, and I'm like what gang."

Moody believes the large riot at the Parkway Recreation Center in January was gang related, and says he would like to tell each and every member of any gang here in Utica the same thing.

He said, "You need to stop fighting. You need to stop the foolishness that you are presenting within Utica. You need to represent us all well, as young individuals as future leaders that you can be."

Moody says he and others are in the beginning stages of forming the Youth Council and are always looking for new members and even adults who want to help the cause.

If you are interested in getting involved with the NAACP Youth Council, contact the Oneida County Chapter of the NAACP at (315) 733-2069.

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