At Upper Level Barbershop in Tacoma, the chairs welcomed a conversation about how to keep a community focused.
"I've seen firsthand some of my friends get shot. I've been involved with stuff like that and it's terrible," said Stanton Deon Hejra, a customer.
Hejra and several others talking in the shop Wednesday said they had been touched by gangs and/or gang violence at some point in their lives.
"I knew my family loved me, but I didn't feel like they were showing me, so people turned to whatever that might be - a girl, a group of guys, gang members,” Hejra.
"Where is the person that's going to come and mentor this kid and say, you don't got to do it like that,” said Tasman Holloway, owner of Upper Level Barbershop.
Holloway, Hejra and others have resolved to be those people. Those mentors, including Terrance Hamilton, make conscious rap music, which also features elected officials, to help show young people being positive is cool.
"Music is like one of the influential things to young people today," he said.
"When you can save one, that one can potentially save the next," said Hamilton
In another space across town, police and local officials are addressing similar issues at the Governor’s Summit on Gangs.
“When we look at the people in our jails the vast majority of them have some ties to gangs,” said Gordon McHenry Jr., the chair of Governor’s Juvenile Justice Committee. He said while prevention strategies include mentorship they also include an evaluation of the justice system.
“There are societal pressures and structures that our youth of color are much more likely to be involved in gangs and much more likely to be in the juvenile justice system, being stopped being arrested or being incarnated.”
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