On May 5, Fulton County leaders kicked off a new anti-gun violence rally called Summer of Peace. This event calls for 100 days of peace for teens and youth in advance of the anticipated spike in violence that precedes the start of summer break for high school students. The event was held on Clark University’s campus and included music, entertainers, and influencers around the city.
The Summer of Peace rally was led by Fulton County Judge Kenya Johnson and Solicitor General Keith Gammage, as they continue to strive for a safe environment for the kids in the community. Local entertainers such as Young Joc and 21 Savage were present at the event to give the youth encouragement, but also to share their stories of gun violence.
Judge Johnson and General Gammage spoke with rolling out prior to the event to discuss what the rally could do for the community moving forward.
What do you want people to learn from this event?
Kenya Johnson: Youth gun violence is particularly tragic because it deals with what could have been, but gun violence comes at all ages. We want people to think about critical thinking, ‘if I do this, then this.’ We want to begin to have people start thinking about if they act impulsively, it may have long-term consequences, such as death or jail. So just getting people to tune in to that critical thinking, and at this moment, we’re changing the trajectory of your life and your family’s life.
What are ways that the community can prevent gun violence?
Keith Gammage: What we have to do is invest in our young people. We have to provide pathways out of crime and out of gangs, and toward successful opportunities in the community. We’ve got to make sure that we’re working together to provide the very best education in the school systems, teach them how to deal with others in a way that is nonviolent, teach them also how to manage their money, and how to be responsible citizens and civic leaders. We also have to teach them the negative impact of committing a crime, especially picking up a firearm. I think as a society we’re doing a disservice to our young people if we don’t show them the way.
What is something you want to get out of this event?
KJ: I want to instill hope in every young person’s mind that makes them want to live beyond their youth and makes them want to fight for their future. By using influencers, social media, and giving lessons from various speakers on how to avoid a life of crime and live a life of success, we think that we can touch many people.
KG: The one thing we want to come out of this is an understanding that you have to love yourself and others and treat [others] with that kind of love, respect, and dignity you treat yourself with it. That will lead us off of this pathway to self-destruction.