Fairmount Rally Planned

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Fairmont community planning a stop the violence rally

Denise Sierra wants to stop the violence in her neighborhood.
Sierra lost her teenage son to gang violence in 2013. He was walking away from a fight and was shot in back of the head, she said. “Since then I’ve been fighting to bring peace to this community.”

At the Fairmont community meeting, Tuesday night, she said, “not everybody in the ‘hood is all bad. I want us to all come together, and show the kids and teenagers they have a chance.” The community, she said, “is tired of losing our young men.”

She called on people to show they can stand up for themselves and the children will see that and they will too. The rally being planned for Aug. 22, she said, will not be the last they have.
“I want our kids to know we still love them — they are not too old to show them love,” Sierra and others said. “No matter what, you can change; turn a negative into a positive, stand together as one community.”

David Dodd, who heads up Impact Racing Ministry on Kentucky Avenue, said the event is part of an effort to bring together the various groups that serve the community, “to generate some energy and get thoughts on what is needed to the problems in the community, to create some hope.” And Dodd said, to create choices and options, “to try to get kids to look at what God’s called them to do, and let them know their lives are not dictated by the streets.”

Showing love to the children, to show them there is another way, was a repeated theme at the meeting, with talk of mentoring programs and the need for volunteers to be mentors — especially men. Dodd said the volunteers now, including himself, are trying to grow leaders, “if the other kids see that, they want to be a part of it too.”

He wants to offer kids “the opportunity to do life and to do it different than the streets offer,” noting the efforts with Impact Racing Ministry running club and kids participating in Scouting and the Griffin Gators swim team. But he said the kids face some peer pressure and don’t always want to be seen “hanging out with the goofy white dude,” ducking down in his truck, sometimes, and not just when there’s gunfire, citing a recent example a few weeks ago, when shots were being fired in the area when he was picking them up for a swim meet.

Scouting is another program that trains boys to be leaders, and there are plans to start a Boy Scout Troop in the community, Troop 200. There are more than 200 Scouts in the Fairmont area, “but they need adult volunteers to do this,” said Rebekah Florence, the new district executive for the four-county Ronotohachi District which includes Spalding County in the Flint River Council.

Dodd said, “this is a plea for help for folks to do something, not just throw money at it.” He got an “amen” from the audience when he spoke about the consistency in the neighborhood, with programs coming and going as well as residents themselves being transient, moving from place to place.

A long-time resident and volunteer in the community, Eula Redding, noted the need for the community to buy into any change or it would not take root. “If the residents don’t take ownership, you can bring in all the programs you want, but until this community decides to stand up, then we’ll make a difference.”

There were more than 50 people at the meeting, but when those who live in the area were asked to raise their hands, and there were only five.Spalding Collaborative’s Regina Abbott said “it’s these five people here who are gonna make the difference. We can’t do anything without you guys.”
She committed the resources of the Spalding Collaborative for the event on Aug. 22, and offered to coordinate local service providers and promote the event. They were challenged to tell two people and have those people tell two people.

Sierra said, “I want my community to behind me, I want us to come together. If we show them constantly what we want, they will eventually give in.”

Two more planning meetings are scheduled, both at 5:30 p.m., and both will be held at Griffin Impact Center, 223 Kentucky Ave. The next meetings will be July 21, and Aug. 11. People are invited to come with ideas on July 21, Dodd said.

Plans are for information booths from the various community services providers, including law enforcement, GED programs, jobs training, as well as Parks and Recreation, mentoring, as well as two to three mile walk. Plans are to start a neighborhood watch and to open up communications with law enforcement.

Along with more than a dozen law enforcement officers at the meeting, was Dale M. Williams Sr., who handed out business cards identifying himself as president and CEO of Atlanta Growth & Development Inc., in Riverdale. He proposed “bringing the various organizations (gangs) together to stop the violence, like in Atlanta.”

Williams, who gave his cards to law enforcement and anyone else who wanted one, was wearing blue and black clothes with Gangster Disciple symbols including the six-pointed star on the shorts and an armband.
A local branch of the Gangster Disciples using Growth & Development in their name has been identified by local law enforcement as one of the local street gangs active in the community. They reportedly use music promotion as a way to recruit.

During a recent gang presentation, law enforcement referred to the consolidation of gangs in Atlanta, showing photos of leaders of rival gangs together, demonstrating the consolidation of their criminal enterprises as a consolidation of power.

Ray Lightner | Posted: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 3:57 pm
Griffin Daily News