Knoxville leaders, law enforcement, parents and community members met to talk about putting an end to violence in the wake of the death of 15-year-old Zaevion Dobson.
Hundreds filled the Fulton High School auditorium Wednesday night to talk about the issues that lead to violence and what needs to be done to prevent more tragedies.
Voices from across the community came to share their thoughts:
“Why did it take the death of a young black man to have this meeting?”
“We're focusing on the solution when we don't know the problem. The inner city has no jobs and nothing for kids to do.”
“Every man volunteer!”
Questions, answers, and solutions.
That’s what Knoxville community leaders got at a forum aimed at stopping gang violence.
The hour and a half meeting called on government, community, and school leaders to come up with a way to prevent the next tragedy.
A common theme developed through the conversation - an understanding gap between the inner city and the rest of Knoxville. “How can you tell me what's going on in my home if you've never visited me?” asked Rhonda Gallman.
Zaevion Dobson's mother, Zenobia Dobson, was there in support of the community effort.
Her son's sacrifice sparked this event, but many tonight were asking the hard question - what are we willing to do to stop the violence.
“We like to celebrate people when they're gone. Why do we have to keep losing lives before we act,” explained Gallman.
A seventh grader at Vine Middle Magnet asked the panel directly - why wasn't there action and community meetings after other shootings? He says not many people outside the inner city understand the challenges black men face.
“If you have muscles, and you're tall, and you're African American - you automatically fear for yourself and fear for your life,” explained Edward Chayehoi.
He hopes Zaevion's story spreads and puts an end to violence across the country.
“My message is: I better not see it again,” Chayehoi said.
Many community members say economics are part of the reason Knoxville’s inner city struggles.
Some are calling for support to the Streetscapes project and renovation of Boys and Girls Clubs.
Knoxville police continue to search for Kipling Colbert, Junior as a person of interest in the gang-related shootings.
WBIR-TV will continue to cover this story Thursday. Join us at 5 p.m. for a 10Listens panel focused on how you can help put an end to violence in Knoxville.