UTICA, N.Y. - June is Gun Violence Awareness Month and local activists in Utica are asking for the gun violence to stop.
As Utica police search for the people who pulled the trigger in two recent shootings, activists are asking why this keeps happening.
Local leaders met at the Empowerment Center, on James Street, to raise awareness and come up with solutions to stop the violence.
Patrick Johnson, the director of the Save Our Streets program, an initiative to reduce gun violence in Utica, organized this meeting.
"This is not one person's issue or one group, this is a community issue and the city of Utica, I know that we are much better than we've been displaying and we all understand that this is not going to be easy, but I think that we are excited about the possibility that we can make things better," Johnson said.
Johnson was joined by community members and Utica residents who say they want to see change.
"We have to be concerned enough that we're willing to do whatever is necessary to make sure that our children are safe," Jamina Lilley, a Utica resident said.
Members of the Street Team voiced their concerns as well.
"We don't want to see our kids in the funeral homes and the hospitals, we'd rather see them in the colleges and to more successful and productive lifestyles," Roosevelt Paterson, a member of the street team said.
Freddie Hamilton is the newest member of the Utica Common Council, and she says figuring out how to stop the violence and come up with long-term solutions is one of her top priorities.
"I've been meeting with some community members who are planning some activities for the summer, that will engage the youth and when I meet with them, they're constantly thinking of ways to keep the young people engaged, to reach out to their parents, to do things that are a little different but we think will make a big difference," Hamilton said. "We have people here who are really working hard to change this and so we need the help of the entire city for us to make this change, it must happen."
Tomorrow, there will be a meeting at the Empowerment Center on James Street. Utica Mayor Rob Palmieri is expected to be there to speak about his plans for the city regarding the recent shootings and gun violence. That meeting will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.