Youth gather at the Change Center to discuss recent violence, call for action from the community

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — On Friday, Austin-East students had the opportunity to share the frustrations and grief they’ve been dealing with since the deaths of three of their classmates.

The event was held at the Change Center. It was organized by Vice Mayor Gwen McKenzie as well as other community leaders and elected officials.

It was the same format as the event that took place on Feb. 19, but this time, the youth were the main focus. Organizers wanted this to be an opportunity for Austin-East students as well as young East Knoxville residents to speak for themselves and say exactly what changes they wanted to see.

There were no media cameras allowed inside, but WATE reporter Jordan Brown was able to sit in. Leaders from community organizations and nonprofits that specialize in youth outreach were present, sharing what services they have to offer to keep youth out of trouble, and involved in their community.

“Students, we should be able to talk and have conversations about what’s going on in our community,” said Austin-East Junior Kyniya Hutchinson.

Knox County school board representative Evetty Satterfield collected feedback after the meeting and says it was all positive.

“One of the scholars, they said, ”I think today was really nice. I know this is a serious topic but you guys made it fun to come to and I would love to do this again.’ And I think that was the energy of tonight. They weren’t sure what they were coming to but we showcased them, we heard from them and they said they wanted to do it again so it’s up to us as adults and community leaders to make it happen again,” Satterfield said.

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