Tough love message gives guidance to local teens

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Four-hundred freshmen at Banneker High School in south Fulton County hung on every word at Wednesday's presentation.
SOUTH FULTON COUNTY, Ga. —

Two years ago today an unarmed 17-year-old was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer. The Trayvon Martin case got national attention, and this week, local attorneys and law enforcement officers are using the case as a starting point, reaching out to young people to teach them about the law, their rights, and how to make the right decisions.

Eventhough Martin was unarmed and walking in his neighborhood, presenters pointed out that a lot of  other young people aren't doing the right thing.

Four-hundred freshmen at Banneker High School in south Fulton County hung on every word.

“If you're charged with murder, rape, armed robbery then you can face trial as an adult” said Fulton County prosecutor Kenya Johnson.

Prosecutors, defense attorneys, and sheriff's deputies sent a clear message: Too many young people are in the system and not in school.

“I get sick and tired of seeing the young faces that are coming in there every single day,” said Fulton County Sheriff's Lt. Brian McGee.

Freshman Praise Idowu wants to go to Yale in four years, and he admits, until today, he didn't know that much about the law, or what's happening in his own community.

“I did not know that if you're caught with the person and you didn't commit the crime you can go to jail also,” Idowu told Channel 2's Erin Coleman.

Wednesday’s speakers gave tough lessons about the reality they face every day. The tough-love approach was all part of their effort to promote productive living.

“We’re going to knock on that door and knock your mom and dad's door down and we're going to come in there and we're going to get you. Heaven forbid your mom try to help you hide cause she's going to take that ride with you (to jail),” McGee said.

And students say the message sank in.

“People are going to be really thinking about what they're doing from now on. I hope this actually betters the behavior at Banneker now. It's going to be better,” Idowa said.

There will be a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church to mark the anniversary of Trayvon Martin's death.

Lawmakers, attorneys and civil rights leaders also gathered Wednesday night for a panel discussion on the controversial stand your ground laws.