Thousands filled the plaza outside of Surrey City Hall to rally against gang violence in the B.C. city on Wednesday.
The “Wake Up” rally was organized after two teenagers were killed in a targeted shooting in the Campbell Heights neighbourhood.
Jaskarn (Jason) Singh Jhutty, 16, and Jaskaran (Jesse) Singh Bhangal, 17, were found dead on a section of 188 Street near 40 Avenue on June 4.
Police are still investigating their deaths.
Parents and community leaders at Wednesday’s rally said more needs to be done to prevent further tragedies.
Gurpreet Singh Sahota, who organized the event, said the city has had enough.
“The deaths of two kids … it’s outrageous,” he said. “The community is very upset and that’s what motivated us to do this.”
Members of the South Asian media, including AM 1550’s Harjit Singh Gill, also helped host the rally.
Gill said talking about gang violence has been an everyday reality for years.
“Every day, we talk about it,” he said. “And still nothing has happened.”
“We looked at those kids and we thought, 16 and 17? Come on. So we had to plan something.”
Jhutty and Bhangal’s grieving family members spoke at the rally. They took the stage wearing T-shirts with the victims’ faces printed on the front.
“We’ve lost our son,” said Mandeep Bhangal, Jesse’s aunt. “He had a bright future.”
“Our community needs to wake up. It’s only Surrey — nowhere else.”
B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth was also in the crowd, as were other local politicians.
Looked like more than 3 thousand people attended the Wake up Rally at the plaza beside <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Surrey?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Surrey</a> city hall. Parents, community leaders hope the demonstration will lead to more help to combat youth gangs and drugs <a href=”https://t.co/x9zbeqXSvg”>pic.twitter.com/x9zbeqXSvg</a>
Rally organizers gathered signatures for a petition asking the government for illegal drugs to be regulated, licensed and sold in shops.
They also handed out flyers — in Punjabi and English — with tips for parents on how to keep their children away from gangs.
Organizers said they hope to form a committee to meet with local politicians, including the mayor of Surrey and the head of the city’s police force, to get regular updates on gang violence prevention.
With files from Meera Bains
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