Despite Violence, MAT-V Leaders Remain Steadfast - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Despite Violence, MAT-V Leaders Remain Steadfast

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It was a dance intended to give Erie’s teenagers something to do on a Saturday night, but it ended with police on the scene after reports of shots fired. It’s not the kind of night dance host and Mother's Against Teen Violence (MAT-V) Founder Sonya Arrington expected.

"Unfortunately, what goes on outside, we can't be held responsible for,” said Arrington. “We had 40-50 kids in here that enjoyed themselves, having a good time. We were dancing, we were eating, we just had a good time."

Four kids entered the dance causing trouble, and were immediately escorted. MAT-V members said the way to end violence doesn't start or end with the Erie Police Department.

"I would suggest people need to quit complaining about the problems in the area,” said Kim Csir, a MAT-V member. “This is a community problem. Get up off the couch. If you see a crime being committed, pick up the phone, call the police, and give them the tools they need to do their job."

Arrington said the Booker T. Washington Center, which is where the dance was held, shouldn't be labeled negatively because of the recent incidents. Rather than stopping the events due to the violence, she'll continue to bring Erie youth together in any way she can.

"We got to keep them busy,” she added. My thought is, if we keep them busy, we'll keep them out of trouble. And if I stop doing what I'm trying to do, they'll be less busy and that's more trouble we'll have on our streets."

Frustrated and yet determined to bring Erie’s youth together, Arrington said the show must go on.

"At the end of the day, I can't give up. We can't give up on these kids and especially the good kids out there who are respectful and who want to have fun without the violence."

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