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Code Red Coalition Workshop Focuses on Youth

By Brittany Nicholson
By bnicholson@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn- Law enforcement said it is time for a change among our youth.

The Code Red Coalition kicked off its initiative Friday night at Madison Academic High School. Local law enforcement, ministers, and community leaders joined in a conversation about Jackson's crime problem.

Allen Mitchell, a minister and gang consultant, was the keynote speaker at the coalition. He said the key to putting gangs behind us is a united front.

"We're trying to get everybody to come together, speak a common language and say "no" to gangs in Jackson," Mitchell said.

Jackson Police Chief Gill Kendrick said the term "Code Red" refers to the urgency of Jackson's crime problem.

"It's a mindset or analogy to say conditions are red. It's time we do something, we react and we need to react with the same type of posture or passion," Chief Kendrick said.

He said his department invited Mitchell to give community members inspiration and hope. Mitchell said the changes will not happen overnight.

"Change is slow process, a gentle process. Gangs are a symptom of a sick community so we're going to treat the symptoms: the violence, the fear people have," Mitchell said.

At the meeting, Mitchell gave advice on how to approach youth in and out of the schools, from classroom curriculum to influencing them on a daily basis.

"We want to take back our streets, take back our city and get back the old country charm it used to have. We want kids to be safe, churches to be safe and we just want to be able to enjoy life," Mitchell said.

Mitchell also showed interviews with former gang members who talk about how it is possible to make a change. Chief Kendrick said he thinks that is a message everyone needs to hear.

"Jackson's better than this. Jackson's bigger than this and Jackson can do this and make the difference. That's why I'm excited to see it come forward," Chief Kendrick said.

The movement continues Saturday morning at The Ned in downtown Jackson from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday's event is a community workshop hosted by the Jackson Police Department and is open to the public.
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