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Youth create anti-violence billboard in Westwood

The billboard reads 'Easy to obtain, hard to deal with' in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

DENVER — Young people in southwest Denver have created a billboard to address the gun violence in their community. 

According to Denver Police, Westwood accounted for 49% of all shootings in city limits in 2020 and 26% of all murders. The billboard is positioned in the heart of Westwood off of Federal, between Alaska and Virginia. 

The billboard reads, "'Easy to obtain, hard to deal with" in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. It also features a white coffin with a teddy bear holding a gun.

Credit: KUSA

The young adults and teens, ranging from 13 to 22, who are responsible for the billboard come from two different groups of youth in Denver: Southwest Vida Youth Leadership and the Denver Teen Empowerment, a program run through the city. 

The youth were prompted by the impact violence and firearms have had on their life. 

"First off, the teddy bear and a gun don’t go together. Neither should youth and a gun," said Yamilette Bravo. "I lost a friend due to gun violence, you know. So I think this is just a way to call attention to this issue." 

Her brother Javier Bravo has felt the same loss from seeing the direct impacts. 

"I wanted to make a change because I have friends who are not in very good place(s) sometimes, and I would want them to be safe. That’s what I really hope for, like people who are my friends to be alive until the next day," said Javier. 

He along with his friends that created the billboard hope it can prompt people to make different decisions when it comes to handling guns. 

"This is troubling to everyone because you don’t feel safe to be able to walk outside and know if you are going to come back home safely, unscathed," said Javier. "Please get it through your head, like please understand that this is real."

Javier asks parents to ensure that their children and teenagers have good influences around them, to prevent them from getting involved in gun violence. 

"I think the most important part is that this billboard was created by us, the youth. This represents our voice and the issue that is most important is gun control in our community," said Sayuri Toribio. 

Credit: KUSA

Because the billboard was done in collaboration with DPD and Chief Pazen, it was important to the department that they take the opportunity to elevate the voices of the youth, who know best how to talk with their peers about this important issue. 

"It has to be done this way because who knows better than these young people of how to communicate with folks that are being harmed in our community, or that are creating harm. This is a different path so they can prevent gun violence from occurring," said Chief Pazen. 

Credit: KUSA


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