COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - City leaders, victims of violence, clergies, and about 300 others from the Chattahoochee Valley gathered at the Civic Center on Sunday of the holiday weekend.
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson held a memorial service to stop the violence and reduce crime in the community.
"As the public safety direction, safety is the number one concern," Mayor Tomlinson said. "We have to have security before anything else. Peace is important."
With a total of 19 murder cases that occurred this year so far in Columbus, Mayor Tomlinson said many community members were interested in holding an event to uplift the city in times of trouble.
"We had four murders happen in just one week in August," Tomlinson said. "We haven't had this rash of murders since the Labor Day weekend of 2010 when we had four murders in just three days. This kind of violence shakes the entire community, but I want people to know this is not what Columbus is about. This is not what we are used to. There's lot of things going on for Columbus and this is not one of them."
Tomlinson told News Leader 9 law enforcement officials are patrolling throughout all parts of Columbus, especially the neighborhoods with high crime rates.
"Interestingly and tragically, we had police officers that had just patrolled the areas where recent murders had happened," Tomlinson explained. "That goes to show you that you can have lot of officers on the street, but they won't be able to prevent murders and other crimes from happening all the time. So I wanted to ask local churches and leaders to gather today because we can all play a role in help reducing crime in our area."
Names of the murder victims were called during the memorial service and local church members prayed for those who were hurting. Attendees were asked and encouraged to write suggestions on what they wanted the city leaders and local churches to do to reduce crime in Columbus.
"I hope they take away a sense of comfort and motivation, but also leave with some real practical ideas of what they can do to stop violence in Columbus," Mayor Tomlinson said.
Local music artists came to the Mayor's event as well.
The group Musicians and Artists Now United in Peace, also known as M.A.N.U.P., has been spreading messages about peace and non-violence through music since 2012 in Columbus. The local group also held their National Prayer Day event at 8 a.m. Sunday morning to share messages about stopping violence and reducing crime in our area.
"We have to be visible, we have to show people we want to see changes," said Lil 40, a local Columbus artist. "People want to see people speak out. Faith without work is dead, so we just have to make sure we stay consistent and strong."
Artists who worked with a Columbus rapper Bobby Ray Stewart also took time to remember him at the Mayor's event. Stewart was the 19th homicide victim of the year, and he wrote a song called "Right or Wrong" to spread a positive message about non-violence.
"We've been through so much violence in Columbus, people are starting to get used to the pain," Lil 40 said. "People are becoming numb and this is the sad part. This is never good. We shouldn't get used to losing people we care about. It's time we all woke up and faced the truth to do something about it."