Candidates To Discuss Youth and Violence at Forum

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COLUMBIA - Two Columbia organizations focused on youth and non-violence are holding a forum Monday night in which candidates for mayor and Columbia City Council will discuss these issues with the public.

The Columbia community Non-Violence Initiative, CCNVI, and Youth Empowerment Zone, YEZ are holding the forum.

The candidates will give answers to three main questions:

     1. What do you propose to do to curtail youth violence in Columbia?

     2. What do you propose to do for programs focused on youth development?

     3. What do you propose to lower the "high unemployment rate for youth?"

The Columbia Community Non-Violence Initiative started last April with a "Silence the Violence" march in response to the shooting deaths of two Columbia teenagers. It has been almost one year since the program began, and the director of Youth Empowerment Zone, Lorenzo Lawson, said the program has made a difference. He said the Columbia Police Department reported that the organization has helped lower the rate of youth violence in Columbia.

"It's gonna take every major stakeholder in our community to be concerned, to know, and to step up to the plate and say, 'Well, we will do this,'" Lawson said.