Teens in Philadelphia, surrounding counties joined town hall meeting to speak about racism and solutions

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As nationwide Civil Rights protests continue well into their second week, teens in Philadelphia's five-county region joined Public Citizens for Children and Youth for a frank conversation.

The conversation focused on how race and racism affect them, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and an open discussion on what it will take to end racism in their lifetime.

This teen Town Hall started with a powerful song by the Chester Children's Chorus, titled, "I Can't Breathe." Those were the final words from George Floyd heard around the country before he died at the hands of police in Minnesota.

His death sparked nationwide Civil Rights protests and prompted conversations like this one. Teens from around the area joined adults and lawmakers to discuss race and racism, and how it affects them.

"My question is why are police officers killing unarmed black men and getting away with it?" asked Gabe Peay, of East Norriton Middle School.

Students not only asked questions but talked about how they see and experience racism in their schools and communities.

"I have heard adults use the "N" word and refer to black people with coded language like people from the city, renters and in light of recent events, rioters," said Harry Cotter of Ridley Highs School. "I watched my peers directly called back people the "N" word."

Lawmakers and leaders participating in the Town Hall say these conversations are important but say as adults, they must work produce change and solutions in particular when it comes to policing.

"We need to change the way we do our laws in Pennsylvania to actually address the use of force," said Representative Jordan Harris.

"How we spend our money reveals our priority so, in addition to modernizing and re-imagining how the police should behave we have to invest in our communities, we have to invest in education," said Congresswoman Madeleine Dean.

Students say they will continue to do their part to help produce change. They say they will continue to vote, organize events discussing and addressing racism, and speak out against hatred and inequality.

The full recap of the town hall meeting can be viewed below:
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