British Columbia

Thousands rally against gang violence in Surrey after teens' deaths

The "Wake Up" event was organized after two teenagers were killed in a targeted shooting in the Campbell Heights neighbourhood.

Meeting comes after two teens were killed in targeted shooting on June 4

Organizers estimated that 3,000 people came to the "Wake Up" rally against gang violence in Surrey, B.C. on Wednesday evening. (Meera Bains/CBC)

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.

Jaskarn Singh Jhutty, 16, and Jaskaran Singh Bhangal, 17, both residents of Surrey, were the victims of homicide on June 4. (IHIT)

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."

Gurpreet Singh Sahota helped organize Wednesday's rally. He said the community is still in shock after two teenagers were shot and killed earlier this month. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

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."

Family speaks

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.

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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