KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For months now, New Reflections Technical Institute on Troost Avenue has been installing signs reading "We must stop killing each other" around the community.
In light of recent violence here in Kansas City, and around the world, the school is trying to emphasize the importance of non-violence.
The signs have gained a lot of attention.
“I didn't even make it past my freshman year. I went to three high schools, 9th grade, in different states,” said 31-year-old Justin Thompson, who graduated from New Reflections after years of struggling.
“I made my living on the streets,” Thompson said of his life before getting his GED.
Thompson said he didn't want to end up in prison or dead, and decided to turn his life around.
“I just try to get myself right, and not give nobody a reason to mess with me,” Thompson explained. “That's why I do what I do now' I go home, get up, go to work, come back home, I don't try to mess with those odds, because they are odds, and I don't got time for that.”
New Reflections technical institute helps train people like Thompson to give them technical skills to get jobs, and hopefully keep them out of jail.
“A lot of our kids are dying in between the ages of 17-24, that's that hard place. If we can get them over that, they have a better chance of surviving,” said Mark Byrd, the Founder and President of New Reflections Technical Institute.
Given the violence going on around the country and here in the metro, he's trying to emphasize non-violence with the signs plastered around the community. He hopes the message of "We must stop killing each other" will connect with Kansas Citians.
“We really need to make sure that we understand that all lives matter,” Byrd added.
“What we're seeing, particularly as it relates to communities of color, this is not something new,” said Damon Daniel, the President of AdHoc Group Against Crime.
Daniel said people have the right to feel angry at times, but you can't solve violence with violence.
“That's the same thing that we as a community have to learn to do, as well, is forgive, and walk away,” Daniel added.
That's the purpose of these signs: that someone will see them and possibly deter them from doing something bad, and perhaps go a step further and inquire about their options.
“My little brother just graduated from high school and was going to college, and I didn't want to be the only one without a diploma sitting at my mama's house,” Thompson said.
Thompson has since started his own company, Lujack's Construction.
“I can't go to jail doing this. I don't have to look over my shoulder doing this. I can go home at night, my phone doesn't ring all times of the day, it's more peaceful,” Thompson added.