WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Darius Brown said he has seen violence on all levels in D.C. It’s something he wants to see stop.

That’s why the 20-year-old D.C. resident attended the “End the Gun Violence Citywide Festival” held Friday in Freedom Plaza. The event featured scores of teens from all over the city who also want to end youth violence, especially with guns.

“You never know what a kid (is) going through or some kids, they don’t know their next meal (is coming from),” Brown said. “I’ve seen people die in front of me, I’ve seen people get shot. I’ve seen a dead person in front of me.”

Even though he’s seen events that stir a soul, he said, “I just try to keep my head on strong. I have little brothers that I’ve gotta be a role model for.”

There were shirts, signs and tents of multiple colors at this daylong rally that said it all: The violence plaguing the District must end.

Eight people under 18 have already been murdered by guns this year and more young people have been injured by gunfire this year than last year.

This week, an 11-year-old boy was arrested in connection with a string of robberies.

Malik Coates, 14, has seen this kind of violence and how it seduces kids into the world of crime and tragedy.

“It’s pretty bad,” he said. “Because like too much shooting and too much people with guns and stuff.”

Coates and his friends have all known people who have been shot.

“It helped me stay strong and see the world in how it really is,” Coates said.

DC Councilman Trayon White said he’s always been concerned about teen violence but that the District can put its money where its mouth is by investing in the city’s youth to curb it.

“Everybody has to participate, from the politicians to the teachers to the mothers and fathers and uncles,” he said.

White said nine recreation centers in his area have been closed in recent years and that doesn’t help

“It’s really about being intentional about serving people with our money,” he said.

Janiya, 16, of D.C., said violence is out of control in her city. But the teen violence can be addressed, she said.

“Some things, I think that we can do to help is be honest, be genuine, and try to actually care for our community,” she said. “If more people from like the higher-ups, let’s say, if they come in, are like, this needs to stop…if we go into the communities where this violence is actually happening, we can we can spread the word.”

Young people’s surroundings, she said, are a driving force in violent crime among teens.

“When people are in bad situations and environments, it doesn’t make them want to do good,” she said.