NYPD Chief: Stop and Frisk Is 'Lifesaving'

At the Rev. Al Sharpton's annual conference in New York City, Ray Kelly told activists the practice is also lawful.

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That was a sentiment echoed by another mother on the panel who lost a daughter to gun violence, Cleo Cowley. Her daughter, 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, was killed in Chicago just days after attending President Obama's second inauguration in Washington, D.C. "Embrace the youth. You see someone who is troubled, don't walk away -- help them," she encouraged listeners.

She said she sees gun violence as a symptom of a culture that takes what it wants and has not been taught that there is another way to live. Cowley told The Root that her daughter's death has motivated her in ways she never imagined. "This cannot be for naught; I have to make good on what happened," she said.

Both families are starting foundations in their daughters' names and hope to include community programs that address the roots of gun violence. One thing on which all the panelists agreed was that gun laws would not be enough to deter gun violence, which is the leading cause of death among black teens ages 15 to 19. Community programs that engage youths and adults are needed, too.

As Marcus Coleman, the president of the Atlanta chapter of NAN, put it, "If we don't get our hands dirty, it won't happen easily. We have to do more in our community. All the policies mean nothing if we don't do more with our youth."

Julie Walker is a New York-based freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter.

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