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Community members talk about synthetic marijuana's impact on youth violence at Elkhart town hall meeting

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Community members listen to a panel on youth violence in Elkhart Community members listen to a panel on youth violence in Elkhart
ELKHART -

 It's been eight months since eighteen year old Devonte Patrick was shot in Elkhart. Earlier tonight the group his Uncle created in response to his death hosted a town hall meeting. He's hoping to reduce youth violence in South Central Elkhart.

"These are our children! Get up out of your chairs. Get up off of your podiums and go get them. If your child is selling drugs, go get him," a community member said at the Roosevelt Center on Tuesday night.

People didn't hold back in voicing their opinions on violence in South Central Elkhart. Many people say new types of drugs--the kind at the center of a recent raid--are a major factor in increasing violence.

Adrian Riley, the head of the Elkhart Community Round Table has personal experience. He's a corrections officer.

"They will speak about how they was fine until they smoked the synthetic and then they got real paranoid and then they just...they thought someone was agitating them or...and then they really went off on the person," Riley said. 

Panelist Regina Roberson says the drugs are driving out the businesses that can keep kids employed and off the streets.

"Those businesses that had those synthetic drugs I hope they're not able to ever come back to this community," Roberson said.

Panelists also said it's important for teachers to get to know kids and educate them in a personalized manner to keep them from developing bad habits. The panel focused on providing more activities and economic opportunities to keep kids busy.

"Give grants that are going to provide training for our young people," Clara Hadley, another panelist said.

Community members also discussed building a better relationship with the police. The meeting's organizers added that subject to the agenda after a fight involving a police officer on July 3rd on Garfield Avenue. 

 

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