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Group taking action to prevent summer shootings

Posted at 9:57 PM, May 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-14 09:47:00-04

Anxiety is building ahead of what could be another deadly summer of shootings for West Palm Beach. Now a local group of young men called the Inner City Innovators is working to prevent violence in their neighborhoods by planning a peace march.

On June third the Inner City Innovators are leading a community peace march at 5:30 p.m. at Friendship Baptist Church. Last year the group's leader, Ricky Aiken had to bury one of his best friends.

"I don’t want to do another peace walk in memory of anyone. I want to be proactive," said Aiken.

Johnny Davis, 19, was shot and killed on 19th street during the deadliest summer West Palm Beach has ever seen. Police responded to 36 shootings in a span of four months.

"Sometimes I try not to break down and cry because I know that if I wasn’t anywhere in school on the day that it happened, I would have been right next to Johnny," said Earl Buchanan Jr. who got out of school to learn his best friend was dead.

Now to prevent another shooting, Aiken and his recruits are marching.

"A major problem with inner city violence is that it gives the perception that the lives of the people here are cheap because we die so often and its just another brother dead," said Aiken.

West Palm Beach Commissioner Corey Neering says he's motivated to see the inspiration in these young men. He understands people in the community are worried about what the summer months will bring.

"There's definitely anxiety around. Folks understand, we’ve seen unfortunately in these last couple weeks some shootings and murders. Quite frankly again, this is a very small 2 to 3 mile radius. So we want to do our best to kind of get ahead of that," said Neering.

Neering along with Commissioner Keith James both met with the community's youth last year to discuss possible solutions to the violence. They are developing a plan to have more activities for young teens in these troubled neighborhoods.

There will be a job fair at Gaines Park on May 21 from 9 am to noon. Anyone between the ages of 16 and 25 is invited to attend, even those with a criminal record.

A workshop will also be held May 18 at the Youth Empowerment Center on 21st Street in West Palm Beach from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Attendees will be given job interview tips and advice on how to write a resume.