ARIZONA NEWS

2 Gilbert moms turned a Facebook page into a digital town hall for youth violence activists

Mar 13, 2024, 4:15 AM

Surge of youth violence changed Gilbert, East Valley woman says...

The Lily Waterfield Facebook page is dedicated to keeping the spotlight on youth violence in the East Valley. (Facebook screenshot, left, FBI photo, right)

(Facebook screenshot, left, FBI photo, right)

PHOENIX — The recent surge of youth violence in the East Valley has dramatically changed the area, according to two Gilbert mothers.

However, Angela Rogers and Kristine Brennan want to create positive change. That’s why they made a Facebook group to advocate for victims of youth violence like Preston Lord, who died after a brutal group assault on Oct. 28, 2023.

“When I heard the story about Preston, a passion was just sparked inside of me,” Brennan told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Chris and Joe Show last week. “I just became determined that these kids would not get away with murder.”

Rogers and Brennan now use the Lily Waterfield Facebook group to keep a spotlight on the Lord case.

How the surge of youth violence impacted kids in the East Valley

“As the days went on and the deeper the rabbit hole became of research, we learned of the trauma being caused by the Gilbert Goons,” Brennan said.

The gang has gained notoriety for committing blitz-style assaults on teens in the East Valley.

“I stress to my kids how important it is not to be alone, to not leave each other, to watch out for a group of kids,” Rogers said. “In their circle of friends, they already know that they’re not safe.”

A breakthrough took place last week when authorities arrested and charged seven suspects. However, Brennan and Rogers feel like the end is far away.

What the Lily Waterfield Facebook page means to the community

Lily Waterfield began as an incognito account for Rogers. Eventually, she used the account to call out leaders.

It quickly became a place where people aired their grievances and desires for improvement, she said.

“Our community has come together to share countless stories of being silenced, of being ignored, of being not helped,” Rogers said.

From there, the duo dreamed up Project Lily, which encourages young people to advocate for positive change. An upcoming event in late March will honor Lord and offer resources to the community.

They chose the name Project Lily to honor the Facebook group that started it all — and because of its initials.

“Preston Lord’s initials matched with Project Lily,” Rogers said. “He will always be our guiding light.”

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2 Gilbert moms turned a Facebook page into a digital town hall for youth violence activists