Community rallies in Opelika to address gun violence

Vigil to stop the violence held in Opelika

OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) -  Opelika is dealing with two murders in less than a week - the most recent one happening on South Antioch Circle, and before that, one on Hurst Street.

Local activists invited citizens to the "Stop the Violence" rally so that everyone can talk about ways to make the community safer. 

Those gathered inside the Covington Recreation Center for the rally had a number of things to say.  

In particular, event organizers allowed time for relatives of shooting victims and family members of those who've pulled the trigger to share the pain they've suffered from gun violence. 

Rodnique Ambus, a 26-year-old activist who coordinated the rally, was happy with the turnout, but said more people in Opelika need to start getting involved in making sure everyone looks out for their neighbor. 

"It could be better if more people come, in the community," Ambus said, "to help one another, like, do activities with the kids. Support the kids, support the moms that lost their child, support the child that lost his father." 

Frankie Bell,  the principal of WF Burns Middle School in Opelika, also took the stage during the rally. 

She offered her perspective on how simply meeting as a community and holding these types of rallies can spur real change for young people. 

"Until a young boy says, 'You know, because of something that young woman said, I won't pick up that gun,' we're going to keep talking because somebody's going to get the message," Bell said. 

Other activists collaborating with Ambus and Bell said during the rally they want to address the issue of violence by offering positive alternatives to young people in Opelika - specifically, by giving them the tools to pursue a passion, or provide even more positive role models in local schools and churches. 

While speaking, Bell urged parents present at the rally to continue to be an active presence in their children's lives and a reference to teach them violence on the streets is not the way to a successful life. 

Ambus told WTVM she will continue to host similar rallies to draw attention to gun violence, among other issues. 

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