WEST ALLIS — Opening night of the Wisconsin State Fair last year didn’t go as planned, after about a dozen people were injured when a series of fights broke out. The violence prompted state fair officials to initiate a sort of curfew program, requiring those under the age of 18 to be accompanied by a parent or guardian after 5:00 p.m. — a program that will continue during this year’s State Fair run.
In response to last year’s violence, and with just three days to go before the doors open for State Fair 2012, Milwaukee-area youth joined with city leaders to speak out against violent behavior.
“We have shown the power and strength of a community coming together for safer neighborhoods. Working hand-in-hand with people of all backgrounds and identities, we can truly create a better community,” City of Milwaukee Youth Council President Zach Komes said.
“I can`t think of a more positive statement than what we are seeing here today. Youth driven, youth inspired, youth led — telling the people of this community, both the adults and the young people, that they are committed to having a peaceful summer,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.
Mayor Barrett himself was attacked at State Fair back in 2009, after responding to a woman’s cries for help.
“It`s crucial that we have strong families and strong parents. It`s also important that we have strong youth leadership and the numbers behind me are a perfect example of that,” West Allis Mayor Dan Devine said.
Many of the young people said they spread their message of non-violence through an open dialogue with their peers.
“If I have friends who actually are involved in the violence, I ask like what`s the purpose of it? What are we getting out of acting out and doing these violent acts?” Shantee McKay with Pearls for Teen Girls said.
The young people said they hope this communication and positive influence will make for a fun year at the fair for everyone.
The Wisconsin State Fair kicks off on Thursday, August 4th.
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