Gang forum open to youth and parents - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Gang forum open to youth and parents

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YAKIMA, Wash. -- The City of Yakima is hoping Thursday night's forum will give parents and youth the opportunity to share their concerns about gang violence.

The Gang Free Initiative and the Prevention Committee will hold a listening session from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Washington Middle School, located at 510 South 9th Street. Child care services and refreshments will be available to those attending the forum.

Luz Gutierrez and Eva Valdivia, co-chairs of the Prevention subcommittee, helped in setting up Thursday's listening session.

"We want to make sure we hear from the parents and the youth that are most affected in regard to what they see are the solutions to the problem," said Gutierrez in a statement.

Valdivia added, "The youth are our future and if we want to see improvement in the schools and the gang activity, then they are the ones that can provide the answers."

City leaders recently approved hiring Steve Magallan as the consultant for the committee to lead the group in the process of organizational and community development. Together, the group will focus on gang prevention, intervention, and suppression.

Kathy Coffey who chairs the 15 member committee has been meeting regularly for the last three months. Lt. Mike Merryman, with the Yakima Police Department, is currently the G.F.I. Director.