LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Local organizations Arkansas Stop the Violence and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have dedicated their focus to reducing violent crimes in Little Rock.
Recent violence in the city has prompted the two groups to join forces and try to find a solution to the problem.
"We are in a state of emergency and it's just heartbreaking," said Rev. Benny Johnson, founder and president of Arkansas Stop the Violence.
Johnson said that he would describe the latest violent activities in the city as senseless.
"We don't have love or respect for each other no more [and] that's why you see a lot of the violence going on," Johnson said.
The only way to change that, he added, is to start meeting people where they are.
"A lot of times the community isn't going to come. You got to go to the community," Johnson explained.
On Saturday, September 2, the Arkansas Stop the Violence and NAACP organizations teamed up to host a "youth explosion."
Johnson said that the event's goal was to give the youth of the Little Rock community a chance to speak against the issues they're noticing among their peers and adults.
"I'm tired of seeing our youth killing older people and I'm tired of seeing our youth killing their classmates," said Walter Cockran, director of Arkansas Stop the Violence.
He said that there are dozens of possible solutions to this problem— and one of them is simply speaking up.
"A lot of times in our communities, people just don't say anything. [There is] a no snitch rule in our areas and they need to get rid of that," Cockran said.
Before the pandemic, Cockran ran a group of teens known as the "Distinguished Men."
"We did various things on the weekends and even on weekdays to try and keep them off the street to make sure they don't get caught up in violent acts," Cockran described.
He has plans to pick the group back up in the future, as it was a part of the solution for giving kids a different avenue.
For Cockran, seeing two organizations come together for one goal has kept him optimistic.
"We want to be something do something positive because then with them being positive they can maybe possibly run on their classmates to want to do something positive," Cockran said.