*An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the time the break out sessions will begin.
COLUMBIA — In response to the two fatal shootings of 17-year-olds, DeAudre Johnson and Bryan Rankin, since mid-March, the Columbia Community Non-Violence Initiative has organized a community event called "Silence the Violence" for Saturday.
The event will start with registration and breakfast at the Armory Sports and Recreation Center at 9 a.m., followed by a silent march from the Boone County Courthouse Square to Douglass High School at 10 a.m.
A community forum will start around 11 a.m., once the marchers reach Douglass High School. Black Entertainment Television (BET) host, activist and award-winning journalist Jeff Johnson will give will give a motivational speech to open the forum. After the forum several break out sessions will start. Topics include:
- Substance abuse and violence
- Street life
- Safe sex
- Raising leaders
- Overview on gangs
An expo for agencies and organizations centered around employment, education and empowerment of teenagers will begin at 1 p.m. Some of the organizations involved are:
- Fun City Youth Academy
- Youth Empowerment Zone
- Division of Youth Services of the Missouri Department of Social Services
- Job Point
- Youth Community Coalition
The Missourian will also have a booth to gather reactions from the event. Volunteer registration begins at 9 a.m. at the Armory Sports and Recreation Center, 701 E. Ash St.
Do you have a question about youth or gang violence in Columbia that you’d like to have asked at the forum?
Tell us what it is in a comment below or email it to us at submissions@ColumbiaMissourian.com, and we’ll give it to the forum’s organizers.