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NAACP calls for action against violence in High Point

HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Community leaders are calling on each other to take action to put an end to violence in High Point.

The city is wrapping up a violent year. Police have investigated 20 homicides and more than 50 shootings in 2017. When 2018 rolls around, those yearly counts will go back to zero.

High Point NAACP wants community members to do everything they can to prevent the victims of violence from just becoming another statistic.

At Thursday night's final meeting of the year, High Point NAACP members lit 20 candles as a memorial for the 20 people who lost their lives to violence.

"They aren’t just names. They are people," Pastor Brad Lilly said.

Lilly read each of their names out loud. Many of their deaths remain unsolved.

"It has been a bloody year," Lilly said.

High Point is hurting, and community advocates like Lilly said -- enough talk.

"If this community does not get involved, these statistics are just going to keep going up," Hank Wall said.

Some police officers and city council members sat in, and the group called on Chief Kenneth Shultz to tell them how they can help.

"I think a lot of this is starting off in the homes and that’s some place I’m not and the officers are not," Shultz said. "I think that’s one place the community has the opportunity to step."

Shultz says drugs, gangs, out-of-control arguments, domestic violence and accidents have all contributed to violence and death this year.

Once that cycle of violence starts, police say it's hard to end, but the community can prevent it from beginning, starting with High Point's kids.

"This community has got to get out of these walls and hit the streets," Wall said.

No young people showed up to this meeting, but community leaders say they have to find a way to draw the youth in.

"We got to go to them," one man said.

This group also called on each other to engage with the youth through schools and churches.

"Prevent this before they go astray," Lilly said.

One man challenged the others to become a mentor to two or three kids this week, before the list of victims keeps growing.

"This is a challenge that we all have to answer," Lilly said.

NAACP members also called on the city council to support and fund more community programs targeted at High Point's youth, like Brothers Organized to Serve Others, which works to empower young men in the Triad, and the High Point NAACP Youth Council.