Leaders from Fort Worth’s City Council and school district have launched a program aimed at curbing teen gun violence. The Fort Worth Violence Intervention program is an initiative that seeks to bring existing violence prevention organizations into local Fort Worth schools to inspire students to make good choices.
On May 10, the program held its first presentations at Polytechnic High School in Fort Worth. The presentations featured sessions in which speakers shared their personal experiences with violence.
“The hardest thing to do right now in Dallas-Fort Worth is you make it to 25 years old,” said Ronny Mitchell of Unity Over Violence. “That’s sad that we are losing kids at the age of 18 and 19.”
Mitchell advised his student audience to live a life worthy of emulation.
“I want you to listen to me and listen to me good. Take this opportunity. Take this opportunity to do something with your life,” he said.
District 8 Councilman Chris Nettles leads the intervention program. Nettles explained that the program is inspired by recent instances of violent crime, especially the shooting of a Crowley High School senior in April.
In that incident, 17-year-old Rashard Guinyard was attending an after-prom party when he was fatally struck by gunfire directed at a large crowd around Altamesa Boulevard.
“My heart is there,” Nettles said as he addressed the crowd of students at the presentation. “To see kids lose their lives, that have scholarships, and have a family that cares so much about them, it just put a fire in my foot that said, ‘You can do something.’ My message to [students] was, will they be the one that will be part of the process and not the problem?”
Nettles further advised the students to be wary of their company, saying, “You are who you hang around. Two things happen. You can become them, or they can become you.”
Melinda Hamilton was another speaker at the event. The founder of Mothers of Murdered Angels — a group that helps families who have lost loved ones to violent crimes — has suffered losses due to violent crimes herself.
Her daughter, Shemeka, and grandson, Derrick Johnson, were shot and killed in separate incidents of violence.
“They were innocent people. It wasn’t like they were in a gang or nothing like that. They got killed for no reason,” Hamilton said of her daughter and grandson.