Communities of Peace works to combat crime in Columbus

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 7:15 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Following an uptick in shootings and gun-related deaths and injuries in Columbus in recent years, one group of men and women joined forces Tuesday to put boots on the ground to help combat crime.

‘Communities of Peace,’ or C.O.P., is a grassroots organization led by non-Columbus-natives. It’s also not backed by any city funding.

A group of about a dozen men and women made their way through three crime hot spots in Columbus: a neighborhood store on Illges Road, then a neighborhood in Midtown on Terminal Court and lastly at the Dollar General on Macon Road.

Overall, the mission was for people in these neighborhoods to see there are community members willing to put their lives on the line to see change.

News Leader 9′s Ashlee Williams wants to preface that a few of these volunteers were armed with guns and wore badges as they are military veterans and wanted to ensure protection.

“We thank you Father God for that what you’re getting ready to do through these men,” Pastor James Tucker with Mind of Christ Ministry said. “We thank you for C.O.P. We thank you for their heart, their desire to make impact.”

One mission and a dozen different men and women with different backgrounds all taking a stand for one purpose: “A life is a life. I don’t care who you are, somebody loves you,” said C.O.P. leader James Curry. “Somebody is your family. Somebody is your neighbor. Somebody is your child, and they don’t deserve to die before God calls them home.”

The first stop: a convenience store on Illges Road. It’s a location where shootings have been happening for years.

“You never know when we’re going to show up, but we want people to know we are tired of the gun violence and crime,” Curry told the convenience store worker. “I am with you.”

“Awesome,” she replied. “Thank you.”

Next, Terminal Court in Midtown.

“There was a young soldier who was lured down here, and they robbed him,” said a C.O.P. volunteer who wishes to remain anonymous. “This is pretty much a bad area that we’re moving into now.”

“The way things are going right now, we are going to need each other to fight against the real enemy,” Curry explained to neighbors on Terminal Court. “Y’all hold it down. Y’all be safe.”

C.O.P. member and Columbus native, Cheryl Williams, said she chose to take the stand Tuesday because her son, Javon Williams, was shot back in 2015.

“... at the Foxy Lady... gang related,” Williams said. That’s why I am here today to help other families not have to go through what I went through. My son is alive, but I want to make sure everybody else is alive also. I have to go to work, but I’m out here for a cause.”

Last stop: a Dollar General on Macon Road. The manager told News Leader 9′s Ashlee Williams that an employee was recently robbed at gunpoint.

“We’re basically foot soldiers for the city now,’ Curry told the store manager. “We’re here to provide protection and safety for everybody here.”

This is just the beginning of C.O.P’s mission.

We do want to emphasize that the group fully supports our local law enforcement agencies, but they know our men and women in blue can‘t do it alone.