ATLANTA (WSAV) – A rise in gang violence among youth in the Peach State is taking center stage at the capitol. A lawmaker from Garden City introduced a bill to prevent gangs from growing in Georgia’s schools and communities.
State Representative Carl Gilliard is pushing to create the Georgia Gang Prevention and Intervention Task Force. He held a town hall meeting Tuesday afternoon at the state capitol to discuss the idea.
“Georgia has a defining problem and it’s not just a black problem, it’s not just a white problem it is Georgia’s problem,” State Representative, Carl Gilliard said.
The state of Georgia has recognized more than 71,000 gang members. Rep. Gilliard said nearly 1,500 are in Savannah and at least 400 of them are in the Chatham County Jail.
“We have to be at the point where we’re tired of going to funerals and we’re tired of visiting people that are incarcerated,” Gilliard said.
State lawmakers are making strides to intervene before it’s too late for Georgia’s youth. They hope a Gang Prevention and Intervention Task Force is the answer.
In 2019, a House Study Committee began examining the rising rate of gang violence.
“Right now you’ve got all types of gangs that have no color attached to it and then some that do, but it affects everyone because guns don’t die people do,” Gilliard said.
Gilliard said the task force would provide resources to community organizations to help deter youth gang activity. Governor Brian Kemp’s administration is also seeking to reduce gang activity in the state but to get this all started it will take money.
“We’re starting at a minimum of $500,000 to one million in this first year of budget cuts to look at matching funds from the local municipalities,” Gilliard said.
Gilliard said it’s going to take everyone buying into this program to make it successful.
“What can we do to stop this child that’s trying to go to school from getting a gun that’s not theirs and using it?” Gilliard said.
Voting on this proposed legislation will begin Wednesday with the hopes of staying alive and making it to the house floor later.