ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The recent rash of gun violence in South St. Petersburg has city leaders looking for solutions and that search for answers is leading them to young people who have some ideas of their own.

What You Need To Know

“It’s important that our voices are at the forefront of the table,” said Johnny Boykin, 34.  

He is a recent product of St. Pete, having graduated from Gibbs High School, serving in the U.S. Coast Guard and now speaking out on how to curb the violence in his community.

“If you’re someone like me, if you’re a millennial or a Generation Z, you have only seen government failure at the issues of gun violence and in particular school shootings, so we are looking for radical solutions to radical problems,” Boykin said.    

Boykin was part of a virtual forum where city leaders listen to the ideas of some of the city’s youngest citizens. Ideas included requiring officers to live in the cities that they patrol.

“If you go into Tampa, you don’t know those areas,” said participant Denise’s Thornton. “So you hear rumors like ‘Oh I heard this area is bad.’ But when you’re actually from that city, you know it’s not as bad as people say it is.”  

It was a forum maybe not fresh with ideas, but from a fresh perspective that organizes hope catch the ears of the older generation. 

“I’ve always heard from older folks that it’s always been this way”, Boykin said, “and so I’m thinking to myself, ‘Ok just because it’s always been this way doesn’t mean it will always be this way and why does it have to be this way?’”