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Jesse Jackson, in Pasadena, discusses shooting of Kendrec McDade

April 26, 2012 |  9:16 am

Riian Simpson, 18, repeats the words of Rev. Jesse Jackson at Pasadena High School on Wednesday

The  Rev. Jesse Jackson addressed hundreds of Pasadena High School students on Wednesday with a message of nonviolent civic activism, encouraging teens to study hard, vote and resolve their issues peacefully.

Jackson is in the area to support the family of Kendrec McDade, the African-American teenager who was fatally shot on March 24 by a Pasadena police officer responding to a robbery call. Although a 911 caller had reported being robbed by a man with a gun, police later discovered that McDade was unarmed.

“We must work together to end the violence,” Jackson told students after briefly mentioning McDade and the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida.

“There’s so much hope for our youth, yet there’s so much fear — fear because there’s too much violence, too much poverty, too many wars and too much concentration of wealth at the expense of the people. Yet you have the power to change the course of this school and this nation,”  Jackson said.

After speaking in the auditorium, Jackson stood with McDade’s parents and family attorney Caree Harper before answering questions about the incident.

“The young man was unarmed and should be alive today,” Jackson said. “The police must be fully transparent to restore confidence. ... There is a barrier of trust that needs to be closed, and this is an opportunity to review the gap [between] police and people because, after all, we need each other.”

Jackson, who was introduced by Pasadena school board President Renatta Cooper and Brotherhood Crusade founder Danny Bakewell, later posed for photographs with students, school officials and several Pasadena police officers.

Jackson said he aimed not to inflame anxieties about the McDade shooting, but to encourage positive and nonviolent reaction.

“What we must do is turn pain into power. We must teach conflict resolution. We must not recycle pain,” he said in an interview. “My job was to inspire them to hope.”

RELATED:

Rally held for teen killed in Pasadena police shooting

Pasadena police using 911 caller as scapegoat, attorney says

Pasadena officers who shot unarmed teen did not tape incident

-- Joe Piasecki and Adolfo Flores, Times Community News

Photo: Riian Simpson, 18, repeats the words of Rev. Jesse Jackson at Pasadena High School on Wednesday. Credit: Tim Berger / Times Community News

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