Members of the Mantua community came together Thursday night to share concerns about an issue that’s devastating their community.
St. Jude Baptist Church was the site of a forum, aimed at raising awareness in an effort to combat violence in the neighborhood. The setting provided a place of comfort and solidarity, for many in the area who live daily with uneasiness thanks to violence.
Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell sponsored the event. Women of the support and advocacy organization Mother’s In Charge provided personal stories and passed on advice to those affected by violence.
Mother’s In Charge Executive Director Dorothy Johnson-Speight described the purpose of her organization.
“Our goal is to reduce the numbers of violence and to get mothers to continue to come to us. It started with two mothers and myself. Today we have over 300 moms in our organization.”
Five women that are members of the organization were in attendance. Two of the group’s leading voices on hand were Johnson-Speight and Phyllis Gibson, another mother who lost her son to gun violence.
“Mother’s in Charge turned my life around. We can all be sitting in the room and tears start to run downs our faces. We all know what we each go through. Now we are here to help,” said Gibson
Amidst the story telling, community members and local police officers questioned the panel, which included State Representative Vanessa Brown, Lt. John Walker and District Attorney Agent Leland Kent.
Each shared their thoughts on violence in the community.
“The commissioner told me ‘he’d never seen before a level of gun violence that he’s seen in this city,’” said Walker.
“We are frustrated over violence and over murders. Our young generation is heavily influenced by video games, movies and television. You can see how crime patterns relate to what they see and read about.”
“Through community outreach I’ve learned so much about crime and how to not get hurt. That was the key,” said Rep. Brown.
“The greatest crime is silence in a community,” Kent said.
Questions and comments fueled an audience fed up with hostility in this city.
Answers generated one common theme. As each day passes by, communities need to create a voice and come together much like Thursday night. Representative Brown, who challenged criminals years ago as a citizen on her block, urged the people to create a voice and hold people accountable.
Members of Mother’s in Charge serve as living proof of those affected by a problem that needs to be resolved one neighborhood at a time.
They hold monthly meetings and offer mentoring and grief counseling.