Community Leaders, Activists Shine Light On Violence In Montgomery


By Ashley Thompson

Both elected officials and community members got together to draw awareness to gun violence in Montgomery.


Anyone can be the target of gun violence. That's the message people at a Montgomery prayer meeting want to get out. Darius Pettway, the Student Government Association President at Auburn University at Montgomery says he came to speak at the meeting because the issue of gun-related crime is close to his heart.


"One of my best friends in elementary school was shot in the head and from that point, it became real to me," he says.

That's why Pettway and others met to bring awareness to what some there are calling an epidemic. The meeting opened with a prayer for the youth of the city and after, several people gave personal testimonies about how crime in Montgomery has impacted their lives.

"I was shot when I was eighteen," community activist Craig Boykin says. "I got shot and another individual in the vehicle with me got shot in the head."

Boykin says he's not completely sure why he survived the shooting but says he now wants to promote a more peaceful lifestyle for the city's youth.

"We have to give these young people something to live for because they live in the now," he says. "Everything is now, spend all my money now, ball out now. They don't think about the future. That's why they'll kill you in an instant."

There have been 9 homicides in 2013 in Montgomery and Montgomery Police Department Chief of Staff John Brown says the problem is not confined to just one area of the city.

"If a homicide happens in West Montgomery, North Montgomery, wherever it may happen...then we all are affected by that homicide," he explains. "That is the attitude we have at the police department, that this is a Montgomery problem."

But still, some see the problem as an opportunity to change the direction of troubled youth.

"We have the power to set a new standard," says Faulkner University student Cedric Coley. The young people have to get involved and say look, this is not the way."

Each speaker gave opinions and ideas on how to stop gun violence. There was no one solution but everyone agreed that it must be a community effort.

The prayer meeting, which was organized by community activist Ja'Mel Brown, was the first of its kind but he says he hopes to have more in the future.


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