COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) -The recent violence in the Columbus community has many people feeling unsafe in their own homes or even afraid to simply go to a gas station.
This all sparked after a rash of shootings, some of them fatal, in the Fountain City and across the bridge in Phenix City.
In this special report on “Victory Over Violence” our Roslyn Giles started the conversation with local pastors, a community activist, and grieving parents, seeking answers to the problem.
The hurt and pain are a harsh reality for the victims and families on both sides of the issue—whether it’s due to losing a loved one to gun violence or to long term incarceration.
It’s a growing trend that needs to end and WTVM and WXTX put together a roundtable discussion with local pastors, victims of gun violence, and a convicted felon turned minister to talk about the issues in hopes of bringing some real solutions to the forefront.
As a result of the violence, we are definitely facing some systemic issues in the Columbus and Phenix City community and that brings us to this question: What do you think is the solution? It’s a wide-ranging question, but we have to start somewhere.
“According to how I was raised, it was always God first," said Zack Farrow whose daughter, Mariah, was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend in Phenix City. "You know, without God, nothing is possible. But the generation coming up, they don’t want to hear that. It’s all about them and money. The solution is we’ve got to take back our community that they have taken from us. The whole side of Macon Road, that’s the reason why we have the problem over there because we don’t have nothing.”
"The solution is what we are trying to address, and that’s community. To unify communing with one another. I don’t think we do that anymore.
“For instance, you have a single-mother family who needs a male mentor for her children and I can offer that, but if I never unify for the sake of supplementing that need, then there will always be a consequence for some sort of lack,” stated Pastor Michael Grant of Faith Worship Center.
Tanya Weaver added she knows the hardships of being a single mother, raising her son Dontrell Williams. He was shot and killed last month while working at the Circle K gas station on Floyd Road.
"You have to make the sacrifice. I think with this young generation, like he said, with the parents having babies so young and they get so caught up with I have to pay this, I have pay that. But the sacrifice has to come with our kids, they are our future,” explained Weaver.
Norman Quarles, a convicted felon, turned minister, and president of Impacting Generations, is constantly talking with gang members about changing their lives around.
He stated, “And I believe the adults have to ask themselves some questions first. What did we do wrong, what did we not do, because somewhere, the kids they did not get God the way it came to us and we can’t be afraid to talk about Christ because at the end of the day, that’s the only thing that’s really going to unify our community.”
The statistics are startling. Right now, we’re at 32 murders and we have two more months to go in this year. In 2017, there were 43 murders.
We also talked about being a single mother or teenagers having kids as a problem in the community. How do we correct that? "We’ve got to go back to the basics. We got to start early in our education of parenting. And if a teenager becomes a parent, we’ve got to be there to mentor them. The elder has to stand up and start helping the younger in the area of parenting right.”
This is a problem that didn’t happen overnight, and most agree, real results will not as quickly, but with boots on the ground, progress can start now.