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Community addresses recent violence

PITTSFIELD – More than 200 people gathered at a community forum Monday evening to discuss solutions to the city’s violence. The panel discussion was spurred after a 17-year-old was shot by a 15-year-old last week.

Seated in the front row of the crowd was the teen’s grandmother, Dolores Taylor.

“He's pretty weak. His color is out, there's a lot going on. He's 17 and he's scared,” said Taylor. “This comes in our society. I love my grandson with all my heart and I give him guidance every day and when I look at him, when I look in his eyes, and [I think] that he feels he disappointed me and I told him I won’t give up on him.”

Some people at the meeting wore t-shirts imprinted with “Save Our Streets.” The shirts were designed by Bianca Carlos-Mendonsa, a former self-described at-risk teen and owner of B’s Exclusive Gear.

“It's [the lifestyle] not gaining you any money, it's not gaining you any education, it's not gaining anything beneficial to your life, so for me, creating a shirt was for the community to step up as a unit, city strong,” said Carlos-Mendonsa.

Pittsfield Police arrested the 15-year-old they believe is responsible for shooting Taylor’s grandson after witnesses came forward, but Chief Michael Wynn told the audience that’s not always the case.

“I'm concerned. I'm more than concerned, I’m at the point of being scared because our investigations are showing that we're reaching a point where people think it's ok not to cooperate, people think it’s ok not to provide information, people think it's ok to know something bad is about to happen and not tell somebody,” said Wynn.

Taylor said she hopes the ideas shared by the community, including more activities for children during the summer and better using the city’s existing resources, will eventually lead to change.

“We're not all out there, but we need to get more focused on the kids,” said Taylor. “Where the kids are and what's going on”