TOLEDO, Ohio — Toledo's chapter of the NAACP held a conversation about violence Tuesday night.
It was prompted after the Glass City had one of its most violent periods in history last year and the goal of the meeting was to find a way to keep our youth alive.
They want a change.
Toledo's violence is just something seen on the news for many people. But for others, it's more.
Erika White recently lost her nephew to gun violence.
"It's very personal for my family. So being here tonight is not only a way for us as a community to come together, but to express what needs to be done within the community," White said.
A violent end to 2021 has community leaders and a local organization saying they don't want this year to follow the same pattern.
The Toledo Chapter of the NAACP invited community members to a "real talk" event in hopes of getting real about what's going on.
"We are fighting to save our very existence," Lucas County judge Ian English said.
No matter how difficult the conversation, they say we need to find a way to limit the city's death toll.
"We've got to have this conversation so that we can attempt to curb some of our young people away from this violence," Rev. Willie Perryman, Toledo's NAACP president, said.
Many say this event couldn't have come at a better time, after a spike in juvenile murders and an increased number of threats in schools.
But the panelists say the solution is as complex as the problem.
"I think it's multi-pronged," Keary Sarabia, a mental health professional, said. "Obviously, we have a pandemic that exasperated a number of issues with our kids. A lot of our kids are going through a lot of anxiety, depression, other mental health issues and families are struggling."
These conversations are sometimes uncomfortable, but they have to be had in order to take steps toward change.
It's a change White hopes we will all take part in. "It's happening everywhere, so everyone has to be engaged and be involved. If we can do that as a community we can start to make some positive changes within our community."
Many of the people attending acknowledge that in order to make a change, it's going to take everyone to work together and speak up.